‘War crimes should never pay’

‘War crimes should never pay’
By Jean Mutua The families of President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, his fierce rival and immediate former Deputy President in South Sudan, lead opulent lives in Kenya and Uganda as millions of South Sudanese nationals suffer from the consequences of a brutal civil war and stare at starvation in the face. According to a 65-page report, “War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay”, published by The Sentry, a watchdog group, the two leaders and military generals are reaping big from the bloodshed of innocent South Sudanese. It is a tale that paints the grim picture of how politicians have destroyed Africa to their benefits and cronies, much to the pain of the ordinary citizens. Since the war broke out in December 2013, at least 300,000 people have been killed and more than 2.4 million displaced, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). The war has devastated an entire nation. The two leaders, several top-ranking military officers and their families, have profited from the bloodshed that has killed and displaced hundreds of innocent civilians, bringing the oil-rich nation to the brink of total socio-economic breakdown. As the “chosen few” and their families live in unrivalled riches in Lavington and Nyali in Nairobi and Mombasa, and Kampala in Uganda, the majority of their people are living in hell as violent clashes take a toll on Africa’s youngest nation by the dawn. It is a script that reads all too common in a continent where pursuit of political power has left untold suffering, from the infamous Rwanda Genocide in 1994 to the current war in South Sudan. As widely expected, the government came out guns blazing, refuting the claims and threatened legal action against The Sentry for the damning revelation. They claimed it was a malicious report done to portray the leadership as a failed one. The report took more than two years and involved top-notch Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other top officials in the US. In a move that should scare the people who, on condition of anonymity volunteered information to The Sentry, the government said that it will go to court to have their identities revealed, an act that will be the start of chilling reprisals on the very people that the government should protect. The South Sudan revelation is not new, at least in Africa where politicians, military officials and other influential people have often amassed colossal wealth as civil wars destroy their nations and corruption vanquishes opportunities that could improve the lives of the hoi polloi. Political leadership in Africa serves narrow interests of the few who use power to amass wealth, destroy their nations and employ archaic means to retain the power. A close look at Uganda where Yoweri Museveni has been in power for three decades now; Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe is the “president for life”; Gabon, where the Bongo dynasty has led the nation for 49 years and; Gambia, where Yahya Jahmeh is a demi-god, describes political power across the continent. It is the richest continent in natural resources yet the poorest. Malnutrition kills more than 50 per cent of children below five years, and one in every two lives in extreme poverty, according to Al-Jazeera. Most Africans live unsure of tomorrow while the leaders plunder and loot the economies to the last drop, ensuring lavish lives for their families and cronies as South Sudan now demonstrates. The continent is still bleeding from brutal civil wars that are manipulated for either gaining or protecting political power. Un-educated young men and women and innocent children have been abused mentally and given AK-47s and other weapons to kill fellow Africans. It is cycle of vicious interests where the ultimate winner is the African president who never feels the pain of such conflicts. South Sudan is in the spotlight, but it is not a case in isolation. Remember the blood diamonds in Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic and Liberia? Natural resources have been used to fund human rights abuses and deaths across Africa. They have been used to destroy Africa instead of making it a better home. South Sudan leaders should not politicise a report that was done by non-political minds as The Sentry; rather, they should re-think and stop the bloodshed in Africa’s youngest nation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up