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What Durban residents have so far, in the scrap between the city’s new and old administrations, is an impression of deepening acrimony and a lot of unresolved accusations.
The new guard, holding aloft an audit report that it has not yet let ratepayers see, has cast suspicion on its predecessors, that they were guilty of abuses, short cuts, maybe even crimes.
The old guard is clearly livid at the way this has been done, feeling insulted and defamed. It is angry, too, at the Manase probe and its report. It is crying injustice, a public trial without substance, asserting both competence at what it did in its years of running Durban, and innocence.
The latest turn, reported in this newspaper on Wednesday, was former city manager Michael Sutcliffe claiming that he and his department heads had fallen out of favour because they refused to cook contracts in favour of certain politicians.
He sketched a toxic political current at City Hall, where his officials resisted tough pressure to enrich bent politicians through council contracts. The names of the culprits, he said tantalisingly, had been given to the Manase sleuths, and would be passed on to the public protector.
Durban ratepayers are owed clarity in this to-and-fro of some months. Have honest, able officials been besmirched in the rough and tumble of politics? Or was there incompetence and graft?
Residents need to know. An accurate understanding of who did what, the faults and those responsible for them, will enable diagnosis and repair. If it is as Sutcliffe claims, that certain politicians turned on his management when it refused to abet graft, some of those figures will still be at City Hall. They should not be.
It is in Durban’s interest to get this wrangle fully into the open. First, the full Manase report must be published. Then the parties must be made to unpack it all and an impartial figure must sift for facts. The sooner it all gets to court, the better.