Durban’s public enemy number one, a man with incredible foresight, a controversial man, an ANC puppet: these are just some of the many names which Durban residents, who have a love-hate relationship with outgoing city manager Michael Sutcliffe, have used to describe him.
Often blamed for every decision taken by the city, Sutcliffe is probably the most misunderstood man in Durban.
As he prepares to bid the city farewell on Friday, the Daily News takes a look back at some of the more prominent moments during his nine-year tenure:
l 2002 – Sutcliffe is appointed eThekwini Municipality city manager.
l 2004 – The eThekwini Municipality was named the best-run metropolitan council in SA when it scooped first prize in the prestigious national Vuna Awards.
Sutcliffe said he was over the moon that their work had paid handsome dividends.
l 2006 – Missing metro Police guns. The Independent Complaints Directorate accused Sutcliffe and other senior metro officials of hindering their invest- igation into 128 cases of missing firearms. Sutcliffe, however, said there were only 68 lost or stolen firearms and that they had been correctly reported to the SAPS.
l 2007 – Sutcliffe dismissed allegations that street children had been rounded up by SAPS and metro police ahead of Fifa’s preliminary draw.
The street children also “disappeared” during last year’s World Cup.
l Public transport lanes, described as the brainchild of Sutcliffe, have since been hailed as a revolutionary project in line with international trends.
l 2008 – Blue Flag beach status. There was an outcry from opposition parties and Durbanites when the city ditched the programme in 2008.
Sutcliffe said the city had abandoned the programme because of inconsistent application of standards and inconclusive scientific research on the use of Blue Flag water quality measures in sub-tropical and tropical climates.
l Rates – More than 50 000 objections were lodged because of overvaluation of properties.
While statistics indicate that about 9 000 properties had been overvalued, property experts said commercial and industrial property had been undervalued by at least R50 billion.
This was strongly denied by Sutcliffe, who has stood firmly behind the highly criticised computer-assisted method of valuations.
l Street renaming – by the end of 2008, 100 new roads had new signboards. A few weeks later vandals had defaced the new names with spray paint, but Sutcliffe managed to clean up several of them.
l He received an award from the Association of American Geographers for distinguished public service.
l 2009 – Remant Alton. After being financially rescued by the city several times, Remant Alton finally stopped operations in June 2009.
l The same year, critics and naysayers were lulled when the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium was completed in time for the World Cup. The feat was largely attributed to Sutcliffe’s exceptional administrative skills. The R3 billion stadium is the only stadium in Africa which can also host a Commonwealth games and Olympics.
l 2010 – The R100 million beachfront upgrade.
The 7km stretch of beachfront from uShaka Marine World to the Blue Lagoon received a much-needed make over ahead of the World Cup. The beachfront and Sutcliffe won compliments from even the harshest of critics.
l 2011 – Investigation into the city, following allegations of mismanagement, corruption and fraud and tender irregularities. Several politicians and administrators are believed to be implicated in reports that are yet to be released.