Jeers, cheers as Jimmy disappears

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Copy of jimmy manyi INLSA The three-year contract of government spokesman Jimmy Manyi will not be renewed. Photo: Phill Magakoe

Cape Town - Former cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi will not be missed.

This was the view expressed by the DA on Monday after the presidency confirmed the controversial government spokesman’s contract as chief of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) would not be renewed.

Manyi’s three-year contract as director-general expired on August 25.

His boss, Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, thanked Manyi for his “sterling work” in a statement on Monday.

 

“[Manyi] brought with him a wealth of experience in the public and the private sectors… Mr Manyi has done sterling work in this position, communicating decisions of cabinet and government policy to the media and the country,” Chabane said.

But the DA was less magnanimous in its appraisal. National spokesman Mmusi Maimane welcomed Manyi’s departure, saying it was “about time” he was removed.

He said Manyi had “soured the relationship between government, the media and the public”.

“The only question is why Mr Manyi wasn’t moved earlier – and indeed why he was allowed to take up such a senior position in the first place, given his history of inappropriate conduct.”

In contrast to his widely respected predecessors Themba Maseko, Joel Netshitenzhe and Parks Mankahlana, Manyi – a geologist-turned-businessman – appeared to struggle in this demanding position from the start.

On his first day, he refused to answer media questions about his controversial departure from the Labour Department months earlier.

Manyi was suspended as labour director-general in June 2010 after the government received an official complaint from Norwegian diplomats alleging he had tried to solicit private business for a colleague during an official government engagement.

An internal investigation was launched, but was later dropped.

Manyi’s suspension was quietly lifted in November 2010, paving the way for him to become the voice of cabinet and the government three months later.

But the gaffe-prone spin doctor soon found himself on the back foot.

Just weeks into his tenure, trade union Solidarity unearthed an earlier television clip in which Manyi had argued there was an “over-concentration” of coloured people in the Western Cape.

This sparked an unprecedented public attack on a cabinet spokesman by a cabinet member, with Planning Minister Trevor Manuel writing an open letter to Independent Newspapers in which he slammed Manyi for “racism of the worst order”.

Manyi’s deputy, Vusi Mona, later issued an apology on his boss’s behalf. But Manyi had deeply angered some in the ANC, which was battling to reverse a loss of support among coloured voters in the Western Cape.

Solidarity deputy-general secretary Dirk Herman said on Monday he welcomed Manyi’s departure and hoped his “ideas about race and affirmative action” would leave with him.

 

Donwald Pressly, chairman of the parliamentary Press Gallery Association, said Manyi had “perfected the art of needless obfuscation”.

The Media Development and Diversity Agency – a statutory body on whose board Manyi served – thanked him for his “support” during his tenure at GCIS.

Manyi declined to comment.

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