Social Media Helped The Sentry Track South Sudan Leaders’ Opulence

Social Media Helped The Sentry Track South Sudan Leaders’ Opulence

Facebook and Instagram, some of the world’s widely used social media platforms, greatly contributed to a damning report on how South Sudan warring leaders profiteered from an ongoing civil unrest as shown by an investigative report released on Monday.

The report dubbed ‘War Crimes Shouldn’t Pay’, developed by The Sentry, a watchdog team led by Hollywood actor George Clooney and Don Cheadle, revealed how South Sudan President Salva Kiir, his former Vice-President, Riek Machar, and top army generals have benefited from the civil war in the nation.

The Sentry used Facebook and Instagram posts by President Kiir’s and Machar’s children, showing off their lavish lives in Nairobi, Kenya and Kampala, Uganda.

“The social media postings just proved the hubris. The proof: they’re posing with stacks of dollars like rappers. This is where the money is flowing and that they clearly have no concern over being caught,” Time quoted Cheadle.

Family members and staff working for the two political rivals posted pictures on social media, showing the lavish lives they lead outside the war-torn nation, reaping benefits of a nepotism-filled system.

Much of the nation’s population is suffering from the consequences of war while some are faced with starvation, read the report.

There are social media pictures of Kiir’s children riding jet skis, riding boats and partying with friends, Time reported. They live in five-star hotels, mansions and drive luxury vehicles in Kenya and Uganda.

The revelations on the massive looting and plundering of state resources mainly from oil revenue shows the important role that social media has in a technology-driven world.

Facebook had at least 1.590 billion users while Instagram had 400 million by April, Smart Insights reported.

Just like the rest of the world, social media has grown over the years as a major communication platform in Africa. Facebook has over 124 million users on the continent.

There is still a huge opportunity for social media growth in Africa where many people are yet to be connected to be connected to the interweb. Almost 800-million people still are not connected in the region.

Amassing wealth

Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan and Riek Machar, his fierce political rival and immediate former Deputy President alongside several top-ranking military generals have amassed huge wealth in the ongoing civil war that started in December 2013.

Their families lead lavish lives in posh suburbs of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kampala in Kenya and Uganda.

Kiir’s wife and several of his sons have shares in shady lucrative businesses in the nation. His 12-year old son has 25 percent ownership in an undisclosed company in Africa’s newest state that is on the brink of devastation, according to the report.

Machar’s family live in Lavington, a posh suburb in Nairobi where homes cost $1 million on average. They are neighbors to Kiir’s family, living barely five kilometers away from each other.

South Sudan plunged into civil war in December 2013 after Kiir sacked his entire cabinet and accused Machar of trying to overthrow him, BBC reported.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) brokered a peace deal in Ethiopia this year, briefly returning stability in the nation after Machar was re-appointed the vice-president.

Violence, however, erupted in July after rebels loyal to Machar attacked government forces in Juba.  The chaos have taken ethnic lines between Kiir’s Dinka tribe and Machar’s Nuer tribe, the two biggest ethnic groups in the oil-rich nation.

Thousands of people have been killed, more than 2.5 million displaced from their homes and at least 11 million are in need of food aid, Reuters reported.