Manyi to get the chop

Jimmy Manyi is said to be on his way out of government. (David Harrison, M&G)

Jimmy Manyi is said to be on his way out of government. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Mail & Guardian has reliably learned that the controversial government spokesperson received a letter from Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane last week, which stated that his contract will not be renewed when it comes to an end in August.

Manyi joined the government in August 2009 as director general of the labour department under then-minister Membathisi Mdladlana.

“He has received a letter [from Chabane] and his deputies know about it. Effectively, he has been sacked from the government, in particular for repeatedly making embarrassing remarks,” a government official familiar with the circumstances told the M&G this week.

“Cabinet ministers complained a lot about him due to his communication skills. He is abrasive and has not assisted government to properly communicate its decisions to the public,” the source added.

Another government insider said Manyi’s departure was due to him angering several Cabinet ministers with “thoughtless” remarks, especially his recent utterances that the public should accept the Gauteng highway e-tolls because they were not just “a bad dream”, but a reality.

It is understood that following the e-toll remarks, some Cabinet ministers approached Chabane and complained about Manyi’s statement, saying it gave the impression that the government did not care about concerns from road users and the public.

The M&G understands that even at Luthuli House, ANC senior officials have expressed unease about Manyi’s record as government communicator, saying there was a problem when the person tasked with communicating instead became the story.

Approached for comment on Thursday, Manyi said he was not prepared to comment on the matter.

Chabane’s spokesperson, Harold Maloka, told the M&G that he was not aware of any discussions between the minister and Manyi over contractual matters.

Adversarial relationship with media
According to a recent Sunday Times report, Jessie Duarte, a former ANC spokesperson and now chief operations officer in the presidency, has been mentioned as possible successor, as has Manyi’s deputy chief executive, Vusi Mona.

According to sources at the GCIS, Manyi was advised by his deputies this week to address staff about his possible departure from the government, but he apparently refused.

Manyi, who has had an adversarial relationship with the media for most of his tenure as chief government communicator, is no stranger to controversy. Last month he was accused of meddling in matters that had nothing to do with him when he accused eNews of censoring itself by not showing advocate Gcina Malindi breaking down in court. This was during the hearing into the ANC’s application to force the Goodman Gallery to remove Brett Murray’s The Spear painting.

Some senior GCIS staff were also concerned over Manyi’s hiring of former Black Management Forum and Tiger Brands colleagues for important jobs, feeling that his decisions had been swayed by his past relationships with them, which he denied at the time.
Manyi was suspended from his position as director general of the labour department in June 2010 following allegations that he had used an official meeting with Norwegian diplomats to solicit business on behalf of an associate.

He had also faced consistent criticism from the BMF for the “wearing of two hats”, as BMF president and a government official.

In 2011 he raised the ire of Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, who labelled him a racist in an open letter after Manyi made remarks about an “oversupply” of coloureds in the Western Cape.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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