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Is Manyi suitable for job, asks Cosatu

Mar 02 2011 17:18 Sapa

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Johannesburg - Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi's remarks that there is an oversupply of coloureds in the Western Cape have cast serious aspersions on his suitability for senior public office, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said on Wednesday.

The trade federation believed that Manyi's attitude and comments, made while he was director general for the department of labour, may have impacted on controversial proposed changes to the Employment Equity Act (EEA).

"Cosatu believes that Jimmy Manyi's comments and attitude may have impacted on the legislation drafted, and this raises serious questions in his attitude and orientation to the race issue in South Africa," Ehrenreich said.

"Cosatu calls for an investigation into the conduct of Jimmy Manyi as it cast serious aspersions on his suitability for senior public office."

Manyi, who is also the chairperson of the Black Management Forum (BMF), made the comments during an interview on the DStv channel KykNET last year.

"So this over-concentration of coloureds in the Western Cape is not working for them," he said in the clip posted on the website YouTube.

"They 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 so you must look into the country and see where you can meet the supply.

"This Employment Equity Act is a very good act in this country," said Manyi.

Government Communication and Information Services deputy CEO Vusi Mona has since apologised for the statements on Manyi's behalf.

But on Wednesday further remarks attributed to Manyi about Indians were published by the Democratic Alliance.

"Indians, we should be having only 3% (of positions on management). They are sitting at 5.9. I call it the power of bargaining. Indians have bargained their way to the top," Manyi said in an address delivered to the Durban Chamber of Commerce last year.

Earlier, The Star newspaper published a letter to him from National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel, who called Manyi a "worst-order racist" over his comments.

"Mr Manyi, you may be black, or perhaps you aren't, because you do not accept that label and would prefer to be 'only a Xhosa', whatever the label you choose, I want to put it to you that your behaviour is the worst-order racist," Manuel wrote.

Solidarity deputy general secretary Dirk Hermann, who has been one of the key critics of the proposed amendments to the EEA, said the changes to law could amount to "a massive and unfeasible social engineering programme" with nearly one million economically active coloured South Africans in the Western Cape having to earn a living in another province.

Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said Solidarity's claims were "unfounded, misleading and mischievous".

The SA Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), however, said on Wednesday that proposed changes to the law could cause coloured people to move out of the Western Cape if they wanted work.

"The draft legislation could impose a freeze on the hiring of additional coloured workers, while employers in the Western Cape will face the impossible dilemma of needing to reduce the proportion of the workforce that is coloured while at the same time avoiding penalties for unfair dismissal," SAIRR special research head Anthea Jeffery wrote.

Ehrenreich said Cosatu was "outraged" at the way in which the proposed legislation gave the impression that coloureds would lose their jobs "in droves" in the Western Cape.

"We are concerned at the department of labour putting out legislation that could create this impression," he said.

"We call on the department of labour to withdraw the amendments and to reinstate the legislation that confirms that provincial demographics will be used to define employment equity targets."

He said the department should clarify its intention to address the employment equity targets in the higher category of workers, "as this is where the real problem is".

"The companies are still over-employing whites into senior managerial positions, whilst there are many black - coloured, African and Indian - graduates not getting employment," Cosatu said.

Cosatu was "further outraged" by journalist Kuli Roberts, who had made derogatory remarks about coloured women in a column in the Sunday World newspaper.

Roberts wrote: "You will always be assured of a large family as many of these girls breed as if Allan Boesak sent them on a mission to increase the coloured race.

"They have no front teeth and eat fish like they are trying to deplete the ocean" and "they love to fight in public and most are very violent," she continued.

Ehrenreich said the statements were "racist and sexist" and should be condemned in the strongest terms.

"We believe that public should be protected against this attitude and call on the press ombudsman to take the strongest possible action against such statements."
cosatu  |  jimmy manyi  |  employment equity act
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