[Nairobi, Kenya, TCT] Reading through a recent report by The Sentry showing how leaders who are supposed to watch over the affairs of the nation, are the very same ones looting the nation, made me to shudder!
(The Sentry is a project that seeks to disrupt and dismantle the networks of military officers, government officials, businessmen, arms dealers, bankers, and other players who benefit financially and politically from Africa’s many conflicts).
The report, which compiled results of two years of investigations, detailed how South Sudanese leaders have been using their positions of influence over the years to profit from South Sudan’s war, while their people suffer from famine and the horrors related to armed conflict.
This report comes at a time when the country is still reeling from the effects of the renewed violence that broke out in July 2016. As one church leader rightly said recently, there is now a threat of the situation developing into a full scale civil war, if the government in place fails to address the grievances of those who feel aggrieved.
South Sudanese leaders are like the leaders in prophet Jeremiah’s day that the prophet castigated in his prophecy: “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people – the shepherds of my sheep – for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the Lord.” (Jer. 23:1, NLT).
At present, reports indicate that thousands of South Sudanese are fleeing out of the country into neighbouring countries every day, due to insecurity and food shortage. This is a worrying situation.
Even though the report has generally mentions political and military leaders as those who have stolen from the country, leaders in other spheres of life should not be quick to point fingers. Church leaders, as the watchmen of the people, ought to cry out to God for forgiveness because they failed, by omission or commission, to speak out on behalf of the people.
Yes, it is true that church leaders have severally warned their political counterparts to check their ways, particularly in their use of resources, but their advice has been ignored. However, this alone does not absolve them from blame. The biggest challenge facing the church, and which many church leaders have also pointed out, is the entrenchment of ethnicity in the church, such that leaders take sides with political leaders based on tribe.
What happened to the watchdogs?
As Archbishop Paulino Lukudu of the Catholic Church in South Sudan recently wondered in the wake of renewed hostilities,
“the churches promised that they would be “watchdogs” based on Ezekiel 3:16-19, what happened to the watch dogs since they failed to bark as promised?”
Without apportioning blame, the report needs to be a wakeup call to the people of South Sudan, irrespective of their tribe, gender or social status. What the report made clear is the fact that there is only a small clique of individuals who are perpetrating war for their own benefit, while the majority is wallowing in poverty.
For some of those in power, the war and instability is an opportunity to amass wealth. For them, there is no incentive to restore peace. Some of the major players who are not willing to negotiate for peace have their immediate relatives out of the country, leading very comfortable and luxurious lives.
It is not a crime to live in luxury as long as the money used for that purpose is legally acquired. But in a situation where the resources of the country are plundered and where leaders use their positions to benefit themselves at the expense of the majority of the citizens, this is a reason for concern.
Ordinary citizens ought to realize by now that their neighbours from other ethnic communities are not their enemies. Their enemies are those who misuse their positions to enrich themselves, while at the same time, they are not ready to negotiate for peace.
When women are raped and children recruited to fight, when men are killed wantonly, and when citizens have to run away from their homes to go to neighbouring countries, this ought to touch the conscience of the leaders for them to do everything within their means to bring peace to the nation. But this does not seem to be the case now.
Therefore, the international community, and men and women of goodwill everywhere, must put pressure on South Sudan leaders to implement to the letter the recommendations of the peace agreement signed last year in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, failure to which there must be sanctions to compel them to act on the deal.
And as The Sentry report said, war crimes should not be allowed to pay!
(The image above is courtesy of TheSentry.Org)BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS