Indians and whites were “over-represented” at the Government Communication and Information System’s (GCIS) senior management level, CEO Jimmy Manyi told Parliament.
Manyi on Tuesday faced MPs for the first time since his appointment by President Jacob Zuma to lead the government’s communications agency.
Accompanied by Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane, he presented the agency’s strategic plan to the communications committee, where ANC MPs shielded him from questions by DA MP and former radio personality Niekie van den Berg.
ANC MP and whip of the party’s communications study group, Stella Ndabeni, intervened when Van den Berg asked Manyi if the furore about his comments about the “oversupply” of coloured people in the Western Cape and about Indians “bargaining their way to the top” in business in KwaZulu-Natal could have been handled better.
Van den Berg also asked whether it would not have been better for Manyi to issue an apology himself, rather than delegating this to Vusi Mona, his deputy. But Ndabeni said these questions would have to be asked “outside” as the committee “does not have time for this”, to which other ANC MPs nodded.
She noted that the comments were made when he was still director-general of the Labour Department and said he could not be quizzed about the matter by the committee. “I will not want to marry a man who keeps asking me about my past relationships,” she said.
Chairman Eric Kholwane also offered Manyi a way out, leaving it to his discretion whether to answer questions about the controversy. Manyi declined to take questions about his past statements.
However, he was confronted with the requirement that every department report on the status of employment equity (EE) as part of its strategic plans and annual reports.
“If you look at Indians, nationally, they are about 3 percent of the economically active population - we (GCIS) are sitting at 15 percent. I am trying to think of the right term that will not get me into trouble - Indians are over-represented. According to our statistics, Africans are under-represented and whites are over-represented,” he said.
He also conceded the agency had not met the EE target for people with disabilities.
After the meeting, he denied this meant potential employees from these racial groups need not apply for vacant management positions at the GCIS and said “there are many other ways” of dealing with the equity conundrum.
He emphasised that “white people are welcome in this country” and need not emigrate to Australia. - Political Bureau