By William Madouk
Removal of acting mayor, Emmanuel Richard Khamis has sparked debate among the residents of Juba City, as multitudes believe he made magical strides to change the face of the city in the shortest time of his tenure, others are feasting over his sudden downfall.
No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper reflects on the short stint of the outgone mayor while in office, until last Friday when Central Equatoria state governor, Emmanuel Adil, issued a decree stripping off Emmanuel Khemis Richard, of mayorship title.
The gubernatorial order created a controversy about Mr. Khamis, a man who has held the office for barely 4 months since his appointment on June 27, 2023, replacing his predecessor, Michael Ladu Allah-Jabu.
Ex-mayor Khamis, who is also Lainya County commissioner had assumed the throne at helm of the city with pomp and promised to uplift the face of the garbage chocked city.
Immediately after takeover, Khamis, known for his toughness, hard work, and controversy, called for a robust transformation, improved security, promotion of peace, and a boost business in the city; ideals, that time never offered a chance to manifest.
The ex-mayor, vowed to eliminate idleness among the staff of Juba City Council and told them to put on overalls, gumboots and go to the field to collect trash; memories of his dramatic character will last forever, in minds of many.
Khamis first hit hard rock and sparked public outrage at the onset of office honeymoon, when he issued an order increasing water prices in the city to a peak high of 1500 SSP per barrel.
It was the national ministry of Water and Irrigation that descended to save the situation, calming the fury against the then new acting mayor.
But Mr. Khamis didn’t stop there. He, in a controversial manner suspended taxes on water tanker operators. To him, the decision to temporarily suspend the taxes was due to a public outcry over the unnecessary water prices in the city.
Among other orders issued by Khemis was one suspending all licenses for nightclubs, removing all street vendors in the city, and opening feeder roads within Juba town.
Khemis ordered the security personnel to stop vehicles from double parking along main streets and to ensure that car washing along main roads is prohibited. He also informed all security organs to submit a daily written security report to his office.
But in turn of events, couple of days after relentless efforts to perfect matters of the city, Khemis was rendered jobless after a video filmed during his hay days trickled on the social media depicting him slapping a vendor.
However, the then city mayor’s action contravened Article 18 of South Sudan’s Transitional Constitution which stipulates that no person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment.
Eventually, female members of parliament, civil society activists, and citizens sprung to demanding the mayor’s immediate resignation or be sacked.
The National Legislative Assembly also issued a statement calling for the immediate removal of the acting mayor.
Speaker of the National Assembly, Jemma Nunu Kumba ruled that the House would recommend Central Equatoria State Governor Emmanuel Adil to relieve the acting mayor from the two positions he had held.
“So, the house resolution on this matter in which the acting mayor misused his power to beat women is a human rights violation against women, and therefore the house resolved to recommend to the governor of Central Equatoria State to relieve the acting mayor from both positions,” she said.
Meanwhile, the JCC legislative council summoned the acting Mayor to appear before the council and explain what transpired.
Though, Mr. Khamis adhered to the summons but requested the councilors to give him 14 days to gather evidence to file his defense; this never materialized, Adil swung his axe before time,
Remarkably, the last speech of Khemis, as acting city mayor, which also remains his last service in office was a day before the exit. At the opening of workshop on waste management, Mr. Khamis outlined poor road network, lack of civic education and awareness on waste management, as reasons to Juba city’s persistent dirtiness.
He guided that the city council and partners need to identify and establish garbage assembly and collection points around businesses and residential areas, as well as procure garbage trucks.
“Proper roads, public awareness, law enforcement, identification of garbage collection centres in the quarter councils, provision of garbage bins, and procurement of at least 57 garbage collection and disposal trucks,” Khamis outlined.
According to Khemis, the city council loses 63% of the entire revenue on expenditures, and only left with 7% remains to manage local government.
Praises and criticism
Chairperson of the organizing committee for the endorsement of President Salva Kiir in Central Equatoria State, Juma David Augustine, notes that Khamis managed to register success in a short time.
“You have registered successes in the few months of your patriotic service at JCC,” Juma said in a statement.
“The proximity of leaders in local government to challenges facing the public is in itself a serious impediment in the lives of the leaders at the given time. Hence, it becomes complicated to suppress emotions in reflex actions,” he added.
He stated that leaders continue to learn how to evolve in matters of public management and political dynamics.
“The revocation of your temporary assignment in JCC is just as normal as the day you were assigned to take charge of the caravan in JCC,” he added.
“Comrade, roll up the sleeves of your shirt and resume serious business in Lainya County,” Juma consoled Mr. Khemis.
According to Mr. Juma, leadership decisions are double-edged swords that could carry repercussions.
“You have delivered to the best of our ability in JCC within these few months and subsequently been held accountable in the last minute of a single decision that looked unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, Jonglei State-based activist Bol Deng Bol welcomed governor, Adil’s decision to revoke the appointment of Mr. Khamis.
“To the governor, H.E. Adil Anthony, the firing of the acting mayor of Juba City Council this evening [Friday] is a significant step in ensuring accountability,” chairperson of the Jonglei Civil Society Network, said.
However, Bol, who is also executive director of Intrepid South Sudan (ISS), suggests opening a stern, watertight legal case against the ex-mayor.
“I am appealing for a legal suit to be launched against him immediately,” Bol remarked.
Key takeaways from Khamis’ service
- Issued an order banning night disco.
- Khamis also suspended taxes on water tanker operators.
- removing all street vendors in the city
- Open feeder roads within Juba town
- Banned double parking on streets.
- directed security organs to submit a daily security report.
Pending Key Issues
- Direct quarter councils to recruit environment and public health officers.
- JCC leadership to de-centralize law enforcement sector.
- Formed a committee to refine findings and recommendations on an inclusive waste management forum.
- JCC to install 300 garbage bins.
- Train chiefs and quarter council staff.
- A cleaning campaign was to be launched at Zaharra’s playground.
- Every area chief should have IDs and uniforms.