For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Oct 27th 2014
20 The EastAfrican OPINION OCTOBER 25-31,2014 PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY THE NATION MEDIA GROUP South Sudan: A ≥ay of light in the gloom The peace negotiations on South Sudan have taken a positive turn following the acceptance by both President Salva Kiir and his opponent Dr Riek Machar that they are morally responsible for the 10-month war that has killed thousands and displaced millions. What is more, the warring parties have recog- nised that the real problem lies with the division within SPLM that metamorphosed from an internal party issue into a national crisis. It is now time for regional leaders to pick up from the goodwill that has been created by the intervention of Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and encourage the two leaders to agree on the outstanding issues to reach a political settlement. As it is, the vested interests of the frontline states of Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia have been partially responsible for slowing down the Inter Governmental Authority on Development mediation. The best solution is to allow the people of South Sudan themselves to talk directly to each other and find a solution to the crisis. The Igad mediation team has done well so far by keeping the fighting in the field to a bare minimum, but there is a growing sentiment among both sides that the mediators should remain as moderators and should not try to impose solutions that may prove counterproductive. Such direct talks have produced better results like in September when the two parties agreed in principle on the broad functions and structure of the transitional government of national unity as well as the federal system of government. The two leaders are now meeting face-to-face and shaking hands without the tension that marked their first meeting in Addis Ababa when they could hardly bear to look at each other. It is encouraging that the two leaders have accepted that a divided SPLM will automatically fragment the country along ethnic and regional lines and are willing to embrace genuine and honest dialogue that puts the interest of the people and the nation above all personal interests. But will they walk the talk? While the power sharing formulae can easily be achieved with the newly found rapport, the biggest challenge is how to reconcile a society that has been deeply divide along ethnic lines after the massacre of innocent people by both sides. It will indeed be difficult to reconcile the Nuer and the Dinka after the atrocities that started last December. But there is no shortcut for the future of South Sudan other national reconciliation and healing. South Africa, Finland, the United State, the United Kingdom and Norway have all joined Igad partner states in supporting the peace process. It no secret that Igad does not have sufficient resources to implement some of its programmes in South Sudan like ceasefire monitoring, but does not stop the regional body from taking the diplomatic lead in working towards a lasting solution. The pressure for a deal is even greater be- cause aid agencies have warned that unless peace is achieved soon, close to a million people will need food aid, having fled from their homes and having lost this year’s planting season. A PUBLICATION OF THE NATION MEDIA GROUP LINUS GITAHI: Chief Executive Officer TOM MSHINDI: Acting Editorial Director PAMELLA SITTONI: Managing Editor Nation Centre, Kimathi Street, P.O. Box 49010-00100 G.P.O. Nairobi. Tel. 3288000, 2221222, 337710, Fax 214531, 213946. E-mail: email@example.com © Nation Media Group By crying, he got rid of lots of cortisone and bad karma that other leaders bottle up.” Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo Z ambia on Friday celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Independence. However, something unique also happened — Ken- neth Kaunda, who is 90, became the first founding republican president of an African country of the 1960s era to be alive to see it turn 50. The Gambia’s Sir Dawda Jawara, also 90, might also have qualified. However, though he became prime minister in 1962 when The Gambia got self-government and remained in the job when it Being vegan, Kaunda eliminated the endless quarrels vegetarians have with cooks and waiters in Africa became independent in 1965, the country only turned into a republic in 1970 and Jawara became president. One of our editors visited Kaunda in Lusaka to interview him ahead of the anniversary. We had been told that he “gets tired easily these days,” so the interview could only last no more than 40 minutes. In the end, it went on for two hours. Still Zambia’s 50, and KK’s still got his white hankie waving his famous white handkerchief, he is very particular about how visitors exit his compound, and comes out of the house to ensure they drive out in the “right” direction. Like Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, though he imposed a one-party state, he remained very much beloved after he lost power in 1991 — especially internationally. A friend at the Voice of America in Washington tells me that the last time he went to their studios for an interview, people all over the building were treating him a reverence preserved for chaps like the Pope. So, taking a light-hearted view, what does Kaunda teach us about post-presidential longevity, happiness, and likeability? First, it seems, be an extreme vegan. Kaunda is not only vegan, but besides water, he doesn’t eat anything cooked or boiled. As a vegetarian of over 10-years standing myself, I was puzzled where the happiness could come from – it’s tough not eating meat in Africa, traditionalists don’t treat you with respect. Then I figured out that by living on fruit and raw nuts, and nothing cooked, Kaunda eliminated the endless quarrels vegetarians have with cooks and waiters in Africa. That must have given him peace of mind. Then, Kaunda is a musical bloke, and is probably the only African leader ever Enemies of the state, lackeys of fo≥eign powe≥? Yeah, ≥ight J ust over a week ago, a new parliamentarian used his maiden speech not to talk about his constituency and its legislative needs. Nor even the country and how he intended to use his new seat to contribute to it. Instead, he focused entirely on Ken- ya’s governance, human-rights and legal organisations — and leading personalities therein. Blaming them for their pursuit of justice for survivors and victims of the post-elections violence, including their support of the Kenyan cases before the International Criminal Court. And attributing that pursuit and support to George Soros, the Hungarian-American philanthropist whose money lies behind the network of Open Society Foundations and network programmes around the world. If the distortions of this maiden speech, and the signals it sends out to the pubic, weren’t dangerous, they’d actually be funny. For all the individuals named are fully grown, educated and thoughtful Kenyan adults, who’ve spent their working lives dedicated to the range of governance, human-rights and legal issues that their respective organisational mandates cover. They worked on those issues long before the post-election violence. Long before the advent of the Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa and whatever grants it may contribute to their organisations’ work. And, no doubt, they’ll be working on those is- sues long after we (finally, as we must) achieve justice for the survivors and victims of the post-election violence. Regardless of what happens with the two Kenyan cases before the ICC. The conspiratorial and paranoid claims were followed by the threat to revisit the Public Benefits Organisations Act to “deal decisively” with civil society. That maiden speech was followed, in relatively swift succession, by similar claims and threats made by the executive during the Mashujaa Day celebrations. The choice was presented as being starkly black and white: You’re either with us or against us, a la George W. Bush. But here to imply that speaking truth to power automatically makes us enemies of the state. And more than enemies of the state. If we dare to challenge this government — its legitimacy through work on the elections, its instrumentalisation in support of continued impunity for political violence — we are nothing but lackeys in the service of global power. And because we act for global power, we are to be crushed like bugs. The tactics against the human- rights, governance and legal organisations are now upgraded — this is the digital version of repression, Repression 2.0. The social media vitriol from online communities — including in the diaspora — working relatively clandestinely and securely in their to play the accordion. In many musical traditions, accordion players are considered the clowns of the craft. I guess you need to be good-natured and not to take yourself too seriously to play it — good traits for managing disappointment and heartbreaks. Kaunda also loved to play golf. So what is in a golf ball that confers virtue in old age? Honestly, I don’t know and can only guess that the blessing of amateur golf is that if you can hit small things, perhaps you get better at hitting bigger ones too. Go figure. However, Kaunda was — unlike many African leaders of that time and today — not a thief. That means he didn’t have to live his retirement looking over his shoulder for prosecutors sent by the new regime to collar him, so he could keep his eyes fixed ahead on making the best of his remaining life. However, I think the ultimate secret is in his white handkerchief and penchant for crying. By crying, Kaunda got rid of lots of cortisone and bad karma that other leaders bottle up, thus turning them into bitter and cruel men. In any event, happy 50th Zambia. And congratulations KK. Cha≥les Onyango-Obbo is edito≥ of Mail & Gua≥dian Af≥ica (mgaf≥ica.com). Twitte≥:@cobbo3 Ah, for the good old days down in the Nyayo House basements.” L. Muthoni Wanyeki own languages to re-frame of matters of public interest as purely ethnic defence causes. The bloggers hired at monthly rates to monitor the mainstream media for any articles or columns defending civil society and hit them with a slew of vitriol in public commentaries. Tempered by individuals now in government with either respectable academic credentials or backgrounds in these organisations fronting the apparently intellectual, rational and reasonable counterweight to these organisations. Our retired presidents must be watching with bemusement. So much delicacy, effort, put into what used to be done far more crudely. Ah, for the good, old days. When an individual from a civil society organisation proving to be a far more stubborn irritant than anticipated could simply be picked up, deposited in the basements of Nyayo House and played around with at whim. Those days are gone. Fortunately. But these days are not so pleasant either. Repression 2.0. L. Muthoni Wanyeki is the Amnesty Inte≥national’s Regional Di≥ecto≥ fo≥ East Af≥ica, cove≥ing East Af≥ica, the Ho≥n and the G≥eat Lakes.
Oct 20th 2014
Nov 3rd 2014