/ 26 September 2009

Moves to oust Manyi from business forum

A campaign is gaining momentum in the Black Management Forum for the removal of Jimmy Manyi — now director general of labour — as forum president.

The forum’s national elective conference takes place next week in Midrand.

A board member and two senior forum managers told the Mail & Guardian that central to the move to oust Manyi has been his acceptance of the post of labour director general. This was inconsistent with the organisation’s non-partisan stance, they said.

”Jimmy is highly conflicted and will not be the right candidate,” said the board member, who asked to remain anonymous.

Manyi is also accused of selling the forum’s soul by endorsing the ANC in elections earlier this year. He told a meeting of black business professionals who met President Jacob Zuma at the Sandton Convention Centre that the forum was fully behind the ANC.

Forum managing director Gaba Tabane said he had no record of the issue being discussed in the forum or of a mandate being given to Manyi.

”I would hate a situation where the forum said to its members: ‘Go out and vote for the DA or the ANC’,” he said. ”Will we have leaders who can criticise government while one of their own is in government? The AGM will have to answer that.”

He said the forum’s articles of association are silent on public service managers holding office in the forum. ”All they say is that you should be a member in good standing, should have served on the board for a minimum of one year and that you should not be a managing director.”

The forum has been toying with the idea of increasing its membership among public service managers, but the matter has yet to be discussed at an annual general meeting.

Manyi is being challenged for the presidency by former forum deputy president Bonang Mohale.

The M&G has established that the forum’s Western Cape and North West provinces are planning to give their vote to Mohale.

Western Cape deputy chairperson Mbulelo Kwali confirmed that his province no longer saw Manyi as a suitable leader.

”Members looked at the dynamics of having the current president being appointed as director general. Their concern is that he might not be independent,” said Kwali.

”We’re a pressure group in regard to government; we don’t want to be seen as a wing of the ruling party.”

North West provincial chairperson Fani Xaba said many forum members were disappointed by Manyi’s endorsement of the ANC.

”We’re a broad church; we should be careful not to play into the political space. Ideally we would vote for Bonang to bring the forum back to its professionalism,” he said.

Predicting a tight contest, Xaba said the leadership race was likely to cause tension in the forum.

Tabane confirmed that Manyi had initially assured the board that he would not run for president, but later changed his mind, saying the branches had convinced him to stand.