On 12 March Business Day ran an editorial headed “Obed Mlaba – the right stuff for London”, shortly after it had been announced that Mlaba was President Jacob Zuma’s choice as the new ambassador there. The piece gushed on about the former Durban mayor’s business acumen, saying “Mr Mlaba showed a strong bias to business when he ran Durban and it is clear that he will try to bring new energy to the relationship with the UK”.
The newspaper noted that “it is in Britain where we lay the groundwork for our relationships with the industrialised world. The quality and vitality of our diplomacy in London, because it is where we still have so many friends, has never been more important”.
Whoever wrote this obviously hasn’t kept up to date with what went on in Durban under Mlaba’s rule. And when he presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth, the package is unlikely to have included a copy of the damning 7,051-page Manase Report into corruption in Durban.
Two cases due to be heard within months involve Mlaba.