Manyi – when Race meets Class

Jimmy Manyi – “Especially Africans” … doing quite well out of the transition, thank you

I’ve been itching to get in my two cents worth about Jimmy Manyi’s various comments concerning ethnic minorities (here for his original statement on YouTube, here for Trevor Manuel’s robust criticism, here for the ANCYL’s counter-attack on Manuel  and defence of Manyi, here for ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe’s implicit criticism of Manuel … “we won’t get in the mud with him”. Here‘s Cosatu joining the attack on Manyi and here‘s the SACP criticising Manyi but warning not to become part of the agenda of Afriforum and Solidarity – probably implying that Manuel has become part of that agenda.)

So much for curating the spat …  now I want to say something about it.

I’ve written about Jimmy Manyi and the various endeavours by both the Black Management Forum and the ANC Youth League to gouge economic advantage out of transformation – catch that here and here for how that agenda was expressed as support for Eskom’s Jacob Maroga.

Jimmy Manyi’s comments about Coloured people must be understood in the context of the interests of the constituency he represents.

Jimmy Manyi is the quintessential spokesman of those who have got rich (or hope to get rich) through Black Economic Empowerment – including racially weighted tendering procedures – and Employment Equity regulations.

Those who define themselves as the beneficiaries of these processes are encouraged to express themselves in ever more racially chauvinistic and exclusive terms.

These Black Management Forum and the ANC Youth League leaders increasingly draw a distinction between themselves and any other ethnic group that also might have suffered under Apartheid i.e. they need to argue that they suffered the most, that everyone else was a relative beneficiary of the oppression of Africans.

The moral high ground of “non-racialism” was built and defended at great cost and effort by the ANC and its allies during  the struggle against Apartheid. Apartheid planners and architects did everything they could to emphasise  differences and spread fear and hatred betwixt and between as many ethnic identities as possible. This is one of the most important keys to understanding how and why that system worked and survived as long as it did.

Which is precisely why the ANC always understood its main ideological task as combating these attempts.

This is the reason Trever Manuel quotes that famous and moving last paragraph of Mandela’s speech from the dock in 1964:

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.

The Jimmy Manyi’s and Julius Malema’s are a post 1994 phenomenon not contemplated by the great men and women who sacrificed so much in the struggle against Aparthied.

They are parasites of transformation, emphasising and nurturing an exclusive African racial identity because it benefits their imperative to extract a rent out of the economy.

4 thoughts on “Manyi – when Race meets Class

  1. Agreed. But what are the ramifications of the ffg: his comment about the Western Cape was made in his capacity as a civil servant + his appointment to govt communications, notwithstanding that he has a (long) history of making controversial comments (which surely cannot be unknown to the Cabinet which appointed him and which includes “pre-94” members)

    1. Hi Dorothy … I am assuming ffg is “fall from grace”? If it is I like it. When Manuel first attacked the execrable leader of the BMF and Cabinet spokersperson I thought he had a mandate for the attack, that this was the core of the ANC defending what coloured Western Cape electoral support it has managed to retain. Mantashe’s comments put paid to that idea. So we are left with a government/President/ANC that appointed the awful little man in the full knowledge of what he has said and might say in the future. There is a part of me that just cannot believe this level of arrogant incompetence … but then I remember Mo Shaik, Menzi Simelane … I remember this is very much part of a pattern and no attempts by myself to normalise this past, to polish it so it fits into a more acceptable version of how we are being governed ,will make it ok. This crew might throw Jimmy to the wolves but by then it will be too late and we can add not having the courage of their convictions to their growing list of shortcomings.

  2. Hey Nic, I sat in on a dinner discussion a few weeks ago that hosted a past ANC heavyweight in the Cape who said he felt that the President simply did not understand the dynamics of the Cape, nor was he offay with the hisoricity of the place. If this is true, he can have no insight nor sensitivity about what is reprehensible and so forth. Moreover, if this is true, might he not actually be prepared to forego the Western Cape and settle for whatever he can get here? A stretch I admit, but plausible? And does Zuma, in your opinion, really not fully understand the issues in the province?

  3. I think it is entirely possible that Zuma does not understand the Cape Province – lets face it it is not an easy place to understand … and our good President has not made a name for himself from his lightning fast wits and deep philosophical insight … However, the ANC does have, in its collective repository of understanding, a deep and complex view of the Western Cape. The problem as I see it is the factional battles (and battles over resources and rights to rip-the-ring) have left very contradictory and contested versions of “the National Question” as applied to the Western Cape, especially with regard to the vestiges of the “coloured labour preference” and the fact that a white party is getting most of the coloured vote. The new breed of “African nationalists” – who are essentially rent-seeking wannabe pillagers – are using the racial polarities and the “betrayal” … if you like … of the coloured voters to ratchet up their preferential claim to the spoils of transformation. The President’s own fingers in the cookie jar make it difficult for him to intervene in a process where similar leveraged rent seeking is skewing the policy and publicity approach to an important voting constituency for the ANC … so the chaos continues, the factional disputes are unresolved and the relations between “coloured” and “African” people in the Western Cape – let alone in the ANC itself – remain fraught. btw how are you Mark? Well, I hope.

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