Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi has apologised “unreservedly” for saying that there are too many coloureds in the Western Cape, according to a statement issued by govermnment communications today.
Manyi was heavily criticised by the ANC and Cosatu for making the “racist and completely unacceptable” remarks on a show broadcast on KykNet’s Robinson Regstreeks in March last year while he was still the director-general of labour.
The remarks came days after the union Solidarity was criticised for pointing out that around one million coloured people stood to lose their jobs if amendments to the Employment Equity Act (EEA) became law.
“Mr Manyi’s comments a year ago sought to underscore the fact that the coloured community forms part of the whole South African nation and he suggested that coloured people could take up opportunities beyond the boundaries of the Western Cape,” a statement from Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) deputy chief executive officer Vusi Mona said.
“Mr Manyi wishes to acknowledge that offence was taken as people interpreted his statement a year ago. For this he apologises unreservedly and calls on all concerned to use the consultation process on the Bill to achieve real transformation.”
In the interview, Manyi said coloureds should “spread in the rest of the country so they must stop this over-concentration situation because they are in over-supply where they are”.
“You must look into the country and see where you can meet the supply,” he said.
Cosatu said the remarks would inflame fears within the coloured community.
The ANC distanced itself from Manyi’s remarks, saying they were “disturbing” and “unacceptable”.
Mona said the debate on the EEA had caused Solidarity to revisit the television interview.
Manyi, he said, has expressed views on transformation in the Western Cape where the coloured community is in the majority “even though this is not reflected in leadership and management positions in the province”.
Mona said the government’s policy proposals were contained in the draft legislation which will soon be subject to the legislative process in Parliament.
“It is mischievous and condescending for anyone to suggest that the perceived influence of an individual could sway government policy,” he said.
“The legislative process is one in which all South Africans are routinely invited to participate. The Employment Equity Amendment Bill presents another opportunity for people to express their views democratically.”
Mona said “concern had to be expressed” that the issue has resurfaced.
“Concern has to be expressed about the fact that this issue has resurfaced, seemingly as part of a vendetta against Mr Manyi, who was recently appointed as government spokesperson – a Cabinet decision that many have sought to undermine.”