Manuel refuses to comment on Mantashe’s tongue-lashing

2011-03-09 10:52

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel will not comment on the tongue-lashing he received from ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe.
“Minister Manuel is not going to say anything,” his spokesman, Dumisa Jele, said today.

“Mr Mantashe said what he said. Minister Manuel will not comment.”

Mantashe rebuked Manuel and the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) at a press conference yesterday for criticising government spokesman Jimmy Manyi over comments he made during a television interview last year about coloureds in the Western Cape.

Mantashe said that the ANC’s national working committee, at a meeting this week, appealed to party members to “refrain from behaving like free agents”.

Asked if he was referring to Manuel, Mantashe said: “We refer to Trevor Manuel or anybody who is a member of the ANC ... (If you act like) a free agent, then you might as well not have an organisation. It’s not only about Comrade Trevor; it’s about everybody.”

Manuel wrote a scathing open letter to Manyi last week, calling him a “worst-order racist” after the Solidarity trade union posted a Kyknet interview on YouTube in which Manyi said there was an oversupply of coloureds in the Western Cape.

Samwu, a member of Cosatu, the ANC’s alliance partner, called for Manyi to be fired over the comments.

Manyi said he had been speaking in his capacity as president of the Black Management Forum and apologised through a statement issued by the Government Communication Information Services’ deputy CEO, Vusi Mona.

Mantashe blamed “racial prejudice” and “hatred for change” for the controversies.

“Anything that it catches, smells,” Mantashe said. “That’s what it looks like in the case of Jimmy Manyi. Up to now, nobody has raised the question of incompetence on the part of Jimmy ... In my own view, I think it’s a question of hatred for change.”

Manuel also received sharp words from the ANC Youth League, The Black Management Forum and senior ANC member Paul Ngobeni.

The Black Management Forum said it was “shocked” and “disappointed” by Manuel’s conduct.

The fighting started after Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann claimed that proposed amendments to the Employment Equity Act could amount to “a massive and unfeasible social engineering programme”.

Hermann said in terms of the amendment, the act would no longer recognise the economically active population of a region, but only the national demographics of the economically active population.

That would mean that hundreds of thousands of coloured people could lose their jobs in the Western Cape.

President Jacob Zuma and the ANC have defended the proposed changes.

“These changes do not in any way affect negatively the employment opportunities for the coloured and/or Indian population,” Zuma said on Monday.

“In fact, it makes it easier for employers to comply with the law and create more job opportunities for all the designated groups.”

A legal expert at the Institute for Race Relations said, however, that Zuma’s attempts to assure the public were “hardly convincing”.

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