Manuel attacks ‘racist’ Jimmy Manyi 13

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has launched an unprecedented attack on government spokesman Jimmy Manyi, branding the Black Management Forum head as a racist in the mould of H F Verwoerd.


Manyi has never been far from controversy.  When we was head of the Employment Equity Commission he denied that there was a skills shortage in the country, blaming the problems on the reluctance of business leaders to hire black people.  He also called for white women to be removed from the Employment Equity Act’s scope as they were well represented.


The latest storm blew up in response to the proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act.  Trade union Solidarity found a video clip of Jimmy Manyi speaking on Freek Robinson’s programme a year ago.  He said that there was an ‘over concentration of coloureds’ in the Western Cape and that they should move to other areas.




At the time he gave the interview Manyi was Director General of the Department of Labour and head of the Black Management Foum.  Asked afterwards in which capacity he was speaking, Manyi responded that it didn’t matter.


Manyi was suspended from the Labour Department not long afterwards after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were lodged by the Norwegian ambassador.  It was alleged that Manyi attempted to generate business for himself while acting in his capacity as Director General. His dual role at the Labour Dept and BMF was also a concern.


Now Trevor Manuel has ripped into Manyi. In an open letter he says, “I want to put it to you that your behaviour is of the worst order racist”. He goes on to say that, “the statements would make you a racist in the mould of HF Verwoerd”.


“I have a sense that your racism has infiltrated the highest echelons of government,” Manuel adds.


The attack gets more personal, and more severe.  Questioning the role that Manyi played, if any, in the struggle against apartheid, Manuel asks, “What did YOU do in the war Jimmy?”


Manuel also attacks Manyi’s ethics, saying that not personally apologising showed a lack of moral conviction,”


The unprecedented attack on President Zuma, and the goverment’s spokesperson, begs the question whether Manyi can continue to keep his job. While clearly a gifted communicator, Manyi seems to court controversy whereever he goes and tends to become the story.


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13 thoughts on “Manuel attacks ‘racist’ Jimmy Manyi

  • Cindy Jane Martins

    It is really shocking that people such as Mr. Manyi could make such statements. This only means that he wants to take our beautiful country back to Apartheid. All South Africans should be able to apply for the job they wish to, stay in the  city or suburb they prefer. God help us, as per a discussion on Focus, the Dep. of Correctional Services is already implementing this ridiculous act. It’s about time that “coloured people” as we are referred to, stand up for their rights, we have every right to be here!!

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    The following is a Media Statement issued by the Presidency:- 

    Employment Equity is intended to open up opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

    President Jacob Zuma has assured members of the Indian and Coloured communities that government will not enact or implement any legislation that is in conflict with the Constitution of the Republic and the non-racial ethos and foundations of South Africa.

    The President met with the Minister of Labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant, this morning to discuss proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act legislation, in particular the concerns raised by members of the Coloured community.

    The Minister assured the President that the legislation is intended to improve the employment prospects of the designated groups and not to make it difficult for them to obtain employment or to advance in their careers.

    The changes in the Employment Equity Act that are of concern relate to Section 42(a) (i) which states that in determining whether an employer is complying with this Act, the following factors must be taken into account:

    Current provision in the Act: “demographic profile of the national and regional economically active population (EAP)”.

     Proposed change in the Bill: “demographic profile of the economically active population”.

    It is important to note that nowhere in the proposed change is there a proposal to remove ‘regional’ and leave ‘national‘, in fact, both ‘national and regional’ are removed. The reason for removal of the two elements is that employers have been enquiring over the years from the Department of Labour how they should implement both regional and national demographics of the EAP in their workplaces. As a result of these enquiries, the change is being proposed.

    The intended outcome of the new proposed amendment is that the employers will have the flexibility to decide whether to use regional or national demographics depending on their operations.

    “These changes do not in any way affect negatively the employment opportunities for the Coloured and/or Indian population. In fact, it makes it easier for employers to comply with the law and create more job opportunities for all the designated groups,” said President Zuma.

     “We have a duty to work together in both the private and public sectors to ensure that employment equity legislation succeeds to correct the wrongs of the past and benefits Africans, Coloureds, Indians, women, youth and persons with disability.  Members of the public will have an opportunity to make representations to Parliament at the right time,” added President Zuma.

    The President added that government remained fully committed to the equality clauses in the Constitution and that the State will not discriminate against anybody on the basis of colour, race, religion and other aspects of diversity.

    The demographic profile of the Economically Active Population in the Western Cape as published by StatsSA in the Labour Force Survey of September 2009, referring to people from 15 to 64 years old that are employed and those that are unemployed, but seeking work, reflected that Coloured citizens at 14.3% are grossly under-represented at the Top Management level.

    The 10th Commission on Employment Equity Report released by the Department of Labour in July 2010 also revealed that transformation in the workplace remained very slow.  The report indicated that 10 years after the introduction of the Employment Equity Act, white men continued to hold 63% of top management positions in the private sector. African women were at 6% and coloured and Indian women were at one percent each.

    Enquiries:      Zizi Kodwa on 0823304910 (Special Advisor on Communications: Presidency)

                            Mzobanzi Jikazana on 0836412355 (Spokesperson for the Department of Labour)

     Issued by the Presidency 7 March 2011

  • herbert Mawodyo

    Words are our tools to do good as they are also tools to do bad but we can learn more from lessons of me and others (diversity) other than me and me ( selfishness)

  • David Janus

    I’ve been thinking about this whole situation and I’m going to lay down the thoughts of my heart whether it’s good comment is up for you all to decide.

    I’m from America, a great country that I’m proud to be from. America has taken a long and hard road to get to where it is today. All throughout American history racism has played a huge role in forming the attitudes and ‘psyche’ of the nation. America was originally an English colony and after it was formed the ‘English’ settlers considered themselves to be the ‘true Americans’ and any other people that immigrated there were intruders or somehow less than them. The newcomers to America – from the Irish, to the Germans, to the Polish, Jews, the Italians, French, Chinese – every nation in the world – were treated with blatant racism and violence and were ostracized and excluded from ‘society’ – for a time. (My ancestors emigrated from Poland to America in 1892) And of course let’s not forget the enslavement, and then exclusion of African-Americans from American society until the mid 1960’s.

    I’m not really beating up on America here – so don’t get excited. This has been part and parcel of the whole of human history. This has happened in every culture, in every people group, on every continent at one time or another. We enslave and diminish people who ‘don’t belong’ to our group – if we have the power to do so – because we somehow think they are less than us or don’t deserve the same as us. I believe this is a natural ‘tribal’ instinct to protect the tribe. I think we must accept that racism and groupism are a natural part of human psychology.

    Accept but not condone. Different groups of people cannot happily co-exist in a society where one group has more power and then uses that power to mistreat the other groups. (we know this from history, right?)
    We are not disparate tribes of people separated by vast geographical distances anymore. We are the Human Tribe of Planet Earth – we must develop instincts now to protect each other as part of the same Tribe.

    I do believe (and of course this is my speculation and opinion) that some ‘Black’ South Africans feel that this is their country now, and they are ‘first’. I think this is a natural way to feel and I can understand it. Basically what happened in 1994 was that the balance of power was taken from ‘White’ South Africans and given to ‘Black’ South Africans. This is neither good nor bad – it just is what it is. The ‘Black’ South Africans are very protective of this newfound power – understandably so. However the problem comes in when human nature takes over and this power is misused. This power of being in control of this nation is an awesome responsibility and it should be used to the betterment of the whole nation – not just one group. Isn’t that why the Apartheid gov’t was thrown out – so that everyone could be free and equal to prosper and live happily?

    One part of the American Declaration of Independence (1776):

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    I know that South Africa is not America and not trying to be America, but there is just something in those words that is so beautiful it has to be universal.

    The current situation in South Africa is not uncommon. However it will take uncommon courage and leadership to forge a great future and make South Africa the great country and nation it can be.

    Ok pardon me if I have spoken out of line – these are my heartfelt thoughts.

  • Nozipho Gloria Sithole

    I just feel so sad about this things that are coming up in our country, we really need to deal with the race issue, somebody says that racism is the worst kind of evil, as you hate someone you have never met and you dont know, for no reason.

    South Africans have a history, that we are not proud of, we need to trully engage about the race issue, because today the coloured community is grossly offended and rightly so, by things that people say about them.

    And if we let them go, them go, who knows what will happen next, so if Khuli Roberts must face the might of the law, so should Jimmy Manyi, its trully sad and i hope that we can come to a place where we can talk to one another and accept that we are different and its ok.

    Using derogetory statements and article to undermine people is wrong, had Jimmy Manyi said what he said out of the purity of his heart, he would have apologised for the way it was interpreted, but his flippant attitude, says to me that he thinks us ordinary South Africans are idiots and we should be treated like this.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    This is a reproduction of Tony Ehrenreich’s response on behalf of Cosatu WCape.

    COSATU is outraged at the manner in which the Employment Equity legislation has been drafted, that gives the impression that Coloureds would lose their jobs in droves in the Western Cape.

     We are concerned at the Department of Labour putting out Legislation that could create this impression and call on the Department of Labour to withdraw the amendments and to reinstate the legislation that confirms that provincial demographics will be used to define employment equity targets.

    The Department of Labour should also clearly clarify their intention to address the Employment Equity targets in the higher category of workers, as this is where the real problem is. The companies are still over employing whites into senior managerial positions, whilst there are many black [coloured, African and Indian] graduates not getting employment.

    Solidarity, the DA and the media have tried to cause racial dissent by highlighting the focus on Coloureds, whilst underplaying the fact that we are going to insist that the EE targets are met for all race groups in all categories of work, with a special focus on Managerial jobs for Blacks [Coloureds, Africans and Indians] in senior Managerial positions, so that Employment Equity targets are met, in spite of the DA attempts to defend the whites.

     COSATU believes that Jimmy Manyi’s comments and attitude may have impacted on the legislation drafted, and this raises serious questions in his attitude and orientation to the race issue in South Africa. COSATU calls for an investigation into the conduct of Jimmy Manyi as it cast serious aspersions on his suitability for senior public office.

    COSATU is further outraged at the statements by journalist, Kuli Roberts, who made such derogatory statements about Coloured woman. These statements are both racist and sexist and should be condemned in the strongest terms. We believe that public should be protected against this attitude and call on the Press ombudsman to take the strongest possible action against such statements, whilst at the same time obligating the sensitive editing of material, to avoid these kinds of stereotyping.

    Journalists making themselves guilty of statements should have the strongest disciplinary action taken against them. Any racial attacks on Minorities or statements that causes racial dissent must be carefully scrutinised, to guard against causing strife and marginalisation of any racial grouping.

     COSATU and the Alliance will ensure that this draft legislation is repealed and that the interests of minorities are defended within our broader commitments to Employment Equity and Affirmative action. The intention of any legislation must be measured against the express commitment of the constitution to promote and enhance racial harmony.

  • Dennis Comninos

    I have always had the utmost respect for Trevor.  I might not always agree with the political party he represents but I have always admired his directness, honesty, and integrity which he has once again proven.

  • iona minton

    Trevor has always been brave in his rhetoric and steadfast in his convictions. its about time that someone of his standing takes these bigots to task. He has the clout to get people like Manyi put in their place.

    Manyi and John Galliano should spend some time together, cut from the same cloth and equally Neanderthal in their thinking. 

  • Klaas Riemann

    Trevor Manuel is indeed very brave or with his back against the wall. I am concerned however that a ‘middle-of-the-road’ highly respected top public figure pulls out the ‘race card’ when clearly not appropriate. Racism refers to actions (!) expressing a feeling of superiority, (reverse racism a feeling of inferiority), based on race, and thus constitutes a violation of human dignity. Manji has not violated anybody’s human dignity – what he has seemingly consistently done is express his support for his own ‘tribe’ or grouping to the detriment of all others. He is a rabid groupist, and a perfect choice for BMF, but an impossible one as the voice of Zuma. And that should be a real concern, as Manuel has also pointed out. It’s  just a pity that the highly emmotive and inflammatory ‘race card’ is far too often used to polarise issues.      

  • David Janus

    I’m glad that someone in Government actually has the courage to speak out and hold Manyi accountable for what he says. Unfortunately I do not think that any official disciplinary action will happen – as has been the case with similar incidents involving other ANC members. Case in point: There is no accountability in the ANC – and none in Government. All of the problems in SA stem from this situation – and could be solved if it were rectified.

  • Des Squire

    Sometimes I am ashamed to be South African – Jimmy Manyi makes me cringe. What is unfortunate is he demonstrates the mentality of so many others who have merely turned the tables of apartheid.

    Mr Manual on the other hand restores my faith and trust that perhaps we as white, coloured or indian (Non Black) have some future in our beloved SA.

  • Jan Beeton

    While decent people across the board struggle to make a living in these difficult times, questionable people like this continue to earn large salaries uttering absolute tripe like this…….. words absolutely fail me at the circus the government has become in so many ways