MAYOR Ben Fihla's address to the metro council on Thursday started strongly and positively, in contrast to previous occasions when his speeches were short and – it can be said – almost reticent.
It soon became apparent that what we were observing was well-rehearsed to make an impact and possibly a new beginning?
However, when the mayor approached the end of his speech, he reached a crescendo of criticism and anger, as he lambasted The Herald, in particular, for wrongly portraying, as he felt, the actions of the leadership in council. In fact, his loud threats to pursue both the media, in the form of The Herald, and those in the council chamber who stood accused by him of leaking inaccurate information, almost took the breath away.
I would suggest that mayor Fihla and his advisers reconsider the fallout from what first seemed a positive approach to the situation prevailing in the metro, but soon became a tirade of threats.
Fihla should always remember that our hard-won democracy supports, and is supported by, the constitution of South Africa, which upholds freedom of expression for all and that includes the vitally important freedom of the press.
In South Africa, we depend, more and more, on the media to keep us informed of what is really happening and help us fight corruption, for the good of all.
Ending on this threatening note does not bode well for our metro and the mayor would do well to withdraw his negative comments.
The speech, which promised much as it got under way, lost impact as the bluster and tub-thumping took over, leaving many wondering what the future holds for our embattled city.
Bernice Wright, DA councillor, human resources and corporate administration portfolio committee member and heritage spokesman, NMMM