It takes a radical leader to transform a radical society

It takes a radical leader to transform a radical society
Former Juba City Council Mayor Kalisto Lado dressed in overall as gets personally involved in city’s clean-up blitz (photo credit: JCC)

When you do a Google search on some of Africa’s dirtiest and most polluted cities, South Africa dominates the list, with 29 cities contributing negatively to the continent’s ecological space, according to data from IQAir. From East Africa, Kampala makes the list, while Juba, its immediate neighbour, is missing in action.

The capital city of South Sudan does not rank among some of the continent’s dirtiest cities and not among the cleanest either. Reason? Juba has not met the international standard that grants it the internationally-recognised status of a capital city.

This is what the former Juba City Council Mayor Kalisto Lado Fautino wanted to change. After getting appointed in March this year, Mr. Lado wanted to be exceptional from his predecessors, who did very little to realign the capital.

On November 7, 2021, this publication quoted the former mayor vowing to place Juba to the standard of other world’s modern cities and making it green and free of garbage.

“We believe [that] keeping Juba clean, green, and safe will be an achievement and we will be free of the garbage soon in Juba City,” he was quoted to have said at the time.

The above initiative, which was yet to hatch, was already behind a radical transformation plan implemented by Lado. Under this initiative, illegal structures within the city were demolished as the municipal authorities work toward realigning the capital.

From Custom and Konyokonyo markets to Juba Town, some of the most disorganised CBDs within the capital, the former mayor opened clear roads and ordered business owners to wield aluminium to replace the temporary shade structure.

This attracted both praises and criticisms at equal measure. Those who felt victimised by Lado’s actions—which were in line with the city bylaws—wanted him removed while development-oriented members of the public hailed the move.

Praise for good work

On October 15, the Governor of Central Equatoria State Emmanuel Adil heaped praise on Lado for the sterling work he was doing.

“I thank you so much for your valuable advice, the Mayor and the deputy, and the entire team. Our coming here to Juba City Council for this short inspectional visit is to encourage the team,” The City Review quoted Mr. Adil. It was almost unimaginable that the former mayor will be fired by his superior after this statement.

It wasn’t all rosy for Lado, however. The business community was largely unimpressed by the imposition of harsh rules by the City Council under the leadership of the former mayor, which created a toxic relationship between the community and municipal authorities.

On November 29, the Chairperson of the Central Equatoria State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture, Robert Pitia Francis, blamed the leadership of Lado.

“As a government, when planning for something, you will always have a solution for it but what is going on now [has] just created a problem which has no solution and it is something dangerous to our struggling country,” he said.

However, Lado was undeterred. He vowed to continue with the demolition exercise for the betterment of the city.

“We want our city to look good and safe, and we also want to be seen as organised people just like others,” he said.

However, concerns over mistreatment of traders followed him. Just a few hours before he was sacked, Lado was accused for failing to protect traders from extortion by his officers who were charging traders exorbitant fees in the name of fines.

But whatever the case, Lado defied the radical South Sudan’s public and achieved in eight months what many senior government officials failed to accomplish in 10 years.

Who comes after Lado? To transform a radical society, we need a radical leader. And, above all, the residents of Juba City must be grateful for having been led by a person of Lado’s salt.