Iron Mike and the platinum handshake

2012-11-26 14:40

When the working week starts on Tuesday, Sunday is Funday. What you don’t want to do on Funday is find out that Durban wants to give its former city manager Mike “Sokhela” Sutcliffe another R10 million or so.

That’s the kind of thing you want to hear about during working hours. At least then the meter is running and you can’t hear yourself screaming.

Iron Mike was city manager for a decade or so. He didn’t get the name for boxing like Tyson. Sokhela got the nickname for the way in which he ran the city on behalf of the ruling party.

He was pretty much the big larnie in the city. He was bigger than hip hop. All he had to do was run the city and keep the bigger larnies in the party happy.

Eventually this all came to an end. Sokhela and then mayor Obed Mlaba, who was also on his way out, had a war.

Intel was leaking out of the mayor’s parlour and the city manager’s office like water from a cracked municipal main. Audits and probes and counter audits and counter probes were appointed.

Names got smeared. Things got messy. The larnies got worried. They appointed yet another probe, the now legendary Manase Commission.

All this sounded and looked good. The city decided not to extend Sokhela’s multi-million contract. They squeezed his allegedly dirty deputies.

They brought in S’bu Sithole to replace him.

S’bu was the province’s local government Mr Fixit. His nickname was Nkunzi when he used to be my neighbour in Albert Park. Now he has bodyguards. Nice.

S’bu quickly declared that Manase’s findings would be kept under wraps for legal reasons.

The city didn’t want to prejudice anyone’s rights; dirty anybody’s name. Particularly those of the councillors Manase had implicated in dodgy dealings. Fair enough.

Then S’bu, who has lots of university degrees and that sort of thing on his wall, did something really weird.

S’bu declared that Sokhela faced criminal charges, was going to be sued by the city for one bar and some change.

S’bu also lashed Iron Mike’s deputies. They were, he said, crooks and vagabonds. What was the source of this intel?

The same Manase report he was refusing to make public because of the damage to people’s names.

Sokhela also has degrees on his wall.

Sokhela lawyered up. Guess who? Durban’s leading divorce specialist Roger Knowles. Sokhela clearly has a far more developed sense of irony than S’bu.

Sokhela’s also going to have R10 million more than S’bu – and Harper – for his early Christmas bonus for not working for a year.

That’s a platinum handshake, consisting, in part, of the tax on my Christmas bonus. Just what I want to wake up to on Funday.

Thanks, S’bu.

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