Only in weird Durban

2012-08-13 14:28

Durban is a weird place at the best of times.

It’s a combination of the sea, the competing forms of ethnic chauvinism, the emissions from the refinery and – not least – the massive amount of Durban Poison being consumed by its residents.

The concept of Durban Poison is in itself an act of weirdness – it’s actually mpondo, grown mostly in the Eastern Cape but smoked by the ton in my hometown.

But that’s another story for another Monday. Back to something far more bizarre and way less pleasant.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the city is led by the highly combative, vocal to say the least, Tex Collins.
Tex has been around in city politics for some time, much of it serving either on powerful portfolio committees or on eThekwini’s Executive Committee, the body that in essence runs the city on a day to day basis.

He’s a hardworking guy and often in your face, vocal on all kinds of issues, a poster boy of sorts for opposition politics at city level.

Throughout the career of recently discarded city manager Mike Sutcliffe (by the way the stickers renaming dozens of city streets Sutcliffe during COP 17 are still there, outliving Iron Mike himself) Tex was a thorn in the flesh.

He was Iron Mike’s nemesis, gnawing away at his shins and constantly accusing the shiny headed one of all kinds of dastardly deeds, foremost among them acting as Mr Clean Up for the ANC at city level.

So I felt like I had been toking away at the Durban Poison when I read a newspaper article stating that the DA, in the form of Tex, was now of the considered opinion that while Sutcliffe was still Mr Clean Head, he was no longer Mr Clean Up for the ruling party.

Rather, and this is where the really serious headrush comes in, like a big hit on a pawpaw stem of the Poison, is that Tex now believes that Iron Mike had never covered up.

The reason for Tex’s personal Road to Damascus – a letter from Sutcliffe to Treasury complaining of all kinds of interference from the ruling elite, which he was suddenly uncomfortable with after nearly a decade of operating at City Hall.

On one level, it’s great that Tex can admit that he was wrong.

I’d love to see him and Michael kiss and make up at high noon outside the monstrous Suncoast Casino, the ugliest pimple of the Golden Mile they conducted so many sniping matches over.

But it does seem bizarre that the minute Sutcliffe gets in the face of the ANC and his successor, S’bu Sithole, and at the same time exposes their lack of political will to clean up the city, Tex is (politically) nibbling his hairy ear lobes.

It left me feeling more than a little uneasy all week.

Not even Pirates’ Friday night victory, the Gunners signing Santi Cazorla and a hard charge at the Keys’ Guinness supply (without my man Ghengiz – he’s fasting for Ramadaan) cured it.

Enough to drive one to Durban Poison.

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