By Wol Deng Atak
I applaud the courage of Justices and Judges threatened by Kiir’s Administration with punitive measures for calling for justice. Their collective resolve to stay the strike despite the threats against them is remarkable; and this sends a crystal clear message to Kiir’s Administration in Juba that it is not enough to suppress genuine demand by decrees. The calls for justice, improved working conditions, and resignation of Chief Justice need every one of us to support. We ought to give it up to the Justices and Judges in support of their clarion stance. Leaving it to them to battle it alone would not only defeat the common good of every citizen, but would also make it impossible to bring desired solution for common good of every citizen in the near future.
The reality on working conditions at the Judiciary dawns on me when I visited high court to only learn that the court’s proceedings had been adjourned because of lack of papers for Judges to record the details of the court proceedings. There was ‘no money to buy the papers’. The lack of money came against the background that the presidency had the money to buy hundred of cars as gifts for President Kiir’s close allies and friends, but nothing for another arm of the government. The purchase of these cars is often done outside the parameters of national budget, habitually obtained at a whim from remittance on crude oil sales.
In the recent past, the governors in the states had been viewed as the failures and so deserving President Kiir’s decrees punishing them. Barely did it occur to unsuspecting public that the umbilical code of states’ failure lies at policies created by Juba based regime. The regime has since its inception deliberately underfunds the states making it impossible for the state governments to manage insecurity. But Kiir would react with relieving decrees, which are often immune to the realities of policies his government creates.
More so, the regime neglect has been a relegated case to the poor soldiers sent to die in Kiir’s war; for the unlucky soldiers killed defending Kiir’s seat never get a decent burial but rather left for birds’ feed. Many others have been buried in mass graves on different occasions to no sound of a protest. Even the orphans of the fallen soldiers have equally been denied salaries in arrears for their late parents. It is a sad reality that their parents fell in frontlines defending the seat of one nonchalant man, who seems unmoved even if walls at his proximity crumble. Perhaps, the voiceless among us have no other voice other than the nation’s collective resolve to stand together and advance a better course for all.
The result of our collective silence is encroaching to every door in the country. We have seen the rod of indignity, humiliations, famine, deaths, etc. Yesterday, teachers, doctors, soldiers and state governors were groaning in pain silently, and now, it is the battle for Justices and Judges. Tomorrow it will be someone else going through it alone without anyone support and the result would be paralyzing beyond defense.
It will be a mistake if any South Sudanese thinks the strike is a battle of the Justices and Judges’ alone. Their fight indirectly embodies the interest of citizens.
You might have been affected in silence by the hyperinflation that has already hit the skyrocketing level (over 800%), yet your salary remains the same. This is your battle. Your monthly salary worth 2,000 South Sudanese Pounds cannot even afford you a one decent meal let alone your dependents. It can’t even last beyond a day meal. Well, Kiir’s Administration is sacking Justices and Judges for asking for a match of salary due to hyperinflation. Your working condition is ineffably terrible but it is only a resolve to stand as one entity that can change it.
A common stance with the Justices and Judges can help us turn J1 officials’ attention off themselves and this could only come to pass through collective efforts.
Our top government officials have not only sought after their own comforts to the disappointment of nation’s interests, but have gone as far as to compensate their businesses whose revenues got lost in the war they caused in 2013. The compensation of one of companies then based in the Former Unity State serving oil companies could pay annual salaries for Judges and Justices with surplus to do other things. Kiir’s Administration affords to approve money in compensation for the companies’ ill-gotten revenues by his colleagues currently at presidency because they are his allies’ businesses, yet he cannot find reason to paying salaries in arrears to the orphans of the soldiers killed on frontlines defending his seat.
Although Judges and Justices have genuine concerns, their voices sound as intruders to J1 governance. Thus, sacking them as nation goes silent is giving Kiir’s Administration a tool for silencing every suffering soul in the country! It is a pity!
Kiir’s Administration has since its inception ridden on non-accountability platform and it is not used to questioning its decision. Therefore, it finds no reason to willingly look into issues raised by citizens. A common citizen has for long been viewed by the regime as an intruder to the governance affairs and this view led to imprisonment, torture, and extrajudicial execution, but this has to be brought to stop by our collective response. Our collective resolve can end the injustices in our South Sudan.