Dr. Riek Machar’s Detention: Why South Africa returns to its dark moment?

By Dr. Gatluak Ter Thach*, USA, JUL/01/2017, SSN;

In June 1961, African National Congress (ANC), the current Republic of South Africa’s governing social democratic political party’s executive, considered Nelson Mandela’s suggestion on the use of violent tactics and agreed that those members who wished to involve themselves in Mandela’s campaign would not be stopped from doing so, and this led to the formation of “Umkhonto we Sizwe,” a violent force—and because of that group, Nelson Mandela was arrested in 1962 and sentenced to five years of imprisonment with hard labor.

From 1964 to 1982, Nelson Mandela was incarcerated at Robin Island Prison near Cape Town, and while in prison, his reputation grew for positive change in South Africa whilst he communicated with his supporters.

Like South African’s Apartheid Movement had done to Nelson Mandela, the current South Africa governing political party (ANC) is doing the same thing now to an innocent South Sudanese political leader, Dr. Riek Machar in South Africa.

There is a speculation that South Africa’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has a deal with the South Sudanese regime to retain South Sudanese’s opposition leader on an assumption that keeping him away from returning to his country will empower his political opponent to bring to an end the crisis in the country. (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-southsudan-exclusive-idUSKBN1421YZ).

It is a human rights violation to impede individual’s political and civil rights. In the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December, 1966, in accordance with Article 49 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights, considering the obligation of States under the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms, ” (ICCPR, 1966).

It is an insult as well to deny someone his rights of travels, because of a monetary compensation. (https://africanspress.org/2017/05/24/breaking-news-2-millions-dollars-receives-by-south-africans-embassy-in-washington-to-keep-dr-riek-machar-in-south-africa/)

Dr. Riek Machar is an opposition leader with an overwhelming support in the country. It is a mistake for the South African governing party and the international community to think isolation as such would bring a lasting peace in the country.

Like Nelson Mandela, who believed all South Africans can live together regardless of their political, economic and ethnic differences, Dr. Riek Machar believes peace can be achieved in South Sudan if everyone does his or her part.

Dr. Riek Machar went to Juba, South Sudan Capitol in 2016 while his supporters and sympathizers did not trust his political opponent and believed he was risking his life for an unimplemented peace.

In spite of official denial by South Africa’s deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson of the claims of South African government’s taking bribes from President Kiir’s government, some revealing evidences suggested that South Sudanese’s opposition leader is being blocked from going back to his country on a ransom deal. (http://theinsider.ug/index.php/2017/04/29/south-sudan-pays-south-africa-450000-a-month-to-keep-dr-machar-silent-and-in-a-guarded-premise-in-pretoria/.)

Nelson Mandela would not be pleased if he has to rise up and see what have become of the new South African’s ANC. Mandela changed an organizational system of ANC when it divided people along racial lines and/or involved on different activities.

Mandela joined ANC in 1944 and engaged in resistance against the ruling National Party’s apartheid policies, and his actions got him in trouble, but he finally was able to manage the change he wanted.

When comparing and contrasting leadership competencies, Mandela was a unique human being. Like President George Washington, Mandela held office to practice good leadership, not to hold on to power or involve in bribery business.

Like Washington, Mandela chose to stay on the presidency for just two terms. Had Washington claimed to be a king, or refused democracy, US would be a different nation today.

After Mandela was released from the prison due to international pressure, including pressure from the United States, he plunged himself wholeheartedly into his life’s work.

He strove to attain the goals he and other leaders had set out almost four decades earlier. In 1991, the first national conference of the ANC, since the organization was banned in 1960, was held in South Africa and in 1994, and Mandela was elected the first black president of South Africa.

What makes his example more important to me was his ability to encourage and motivate his followers throughout the world to work for freedom regardless of the situation he had found himself in.

For someone who almost died in jail to gain power and then freely give it back to his people is an extraordinary example for others to follow, and ANC governing party should not do away with Mandela’s core legacy by denying an important political icon in South Sudan his political freedom.

Whether it is true or not, blocking Dr. Riek Machar from traveling and participating in the political process in South Sudan due to the monetary means or whatever will delay the peace process and continue the suffering of the people of South Sudan. (http://theinsider.ug/index.php/2017/04/29/south-sudan-pays-south-africa-450000-a-month-to-keep-dr-machar-silent-and-in-a-guarded-premise-in-pretoria/)

Dr. Riek is the Mandela of South Sudan. He is the remaining hope people of South Sudan still have and believe through him South Sudan will come out of this man-made crisis and become the peaceful and developing nation in the region.

South Africa’s ANC governing party must free Dr. Riek Machar to join the peace process in South Sudan.

I believe South Africa will not solely live up into the lasting legacy of Pres. Nelson Mandela, but it will also continue to demonstrate the great leadership in the African continent for a possible replication.

Author lives and works in Nashville, TN (USA); email: [email protected]

National – SouthSudanNation.com

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