Communications minister Faith Muthambi has distanced her office from former government spin doctor Mzwanele “Jimmy” Manyi.
Earlier this week, Manyi tweeted that SABC executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng was on the “right side” of the Employment Equity Act regarding his qualifications.
Manyi further tweeted that SABC governance issues are board matters and have nothing to do with Motsoeneng.
It has been previously reported that Manyi is a special advisor to Muthambi.
But Muthambi’s office, in a statement Thursday, distanced herself from Manyi, who is currently the President of Progressive Professionals Forum and heads up the “Decolonisation Forum”.
Update: Muthambi’s office has since issued a further statement, withdrawing the first statement (see below).
Manyi previously headed up the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
“The ministry wishes to state that Mr Manyi is no longer an advisor to the minister of communications and therefore does not speak on behalf of the ministry,” said Muthambi’s office.
“The ministry also wants to add that it plays no role in the appointment of managers at the SABC. These appointments follow the normal recruitment processes as prescribed within the policy of the public broadcaster.
“The ministry of communications is invited by the board to participate in the appointment of the group CEO, the chief financial officer and the chief operating officer as per the SABC memorandum of incorporation,” said Muthambi.
The appointment of Motsoeneng, who was found by the public protector to have lied about having a matric, has sparked national controversy.
Earlier in September, the supreme court of appeal set aside the appointment of Motsoeneng as chief operating officer, but the SABC board controversially deployed Motsoeneng to the position of general executive for corporate affairs.
But Manyi said by phone on Thursday that he resigned as advisor to Muthambi a “couple of months ago” and that he stands by his comments about Motsoeneng.
“That’s actually the reason why I resigned so that whatever I do in the Decolonisation Foundation must not be confused with the position of the minister,” Manyi said.
“That’s exactly why I resigned. So, I think it was important for her to highlight that, and that what I say is my position in the Decolonisation Foundation,” he said.
Manyi further said that his only response regarding his comments about Moetseneng is that “everybody must just go to the law”.
The legislation that Manyi referred to in his tweet was section 20, subsection 3 of the Employment Equity Act.
This part of the act says “a person may be suitably qualified for a job as a result of any one of, or any combination of that person’s formal qualifications, prior learning, relevant experience; or capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time, the ability to do the job.”
“You will see that what I’m saying is actually the correct articulation of the law, and I maintain my position in terms of Employment Equity Act,” said Manyi.
“So, I’m sticking by my position in terms of the Employment Equity Act,” Manyi told said.
Manyi was further not willing to comment on MPs’ calls in parliament on Wednesday for the SABC board be dissolved.
After lengthy deliberations on Wednesday in parliament, all political parties who are members of the portfolio committee on communications agreed that the remaining SABC board members should resign.
As a first step, a formal parliamentary inquiry is expected to be instituted into the fitness of the board.
MPs agreed that the current board was dysfunctional and ill-governed, neglecting its fiduciary duty towards the public and should therefore be dissolved.
During the committee meeting, two SABC board members Vusi Mavuso and Krish Naidoo tendered their resignations in the presence of their fellow board members.
Manyi said that he had been following Wednesday’s events “only from a distance”.
“I don’t want to comment on that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muthambi’s comments about Manyi come as he also claimed over the weekend that his Decolonisation Foundation had received documents showing payments had been made to national treasury’s head of procurement, Kenneth Brown.
National treasury this week said it’s written to Manyi and the Hawks to ask for a copy of a dossier.
Manyi has previously defended President Jacob Zuma, South African Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane and the Gupta family.
Update: Muthambi’s spokesman issued a further statement later on Thursday withdrawing the earlier statement. “The ministry of communications would like to withdraw and retract the statement that was issued earlier regarding Mr Mzwanele Manyi. The statement was issued without the authorisation of the minister. Apologies for inconvenience and parties concern (sic).”