Manyi tongue-lashing angers colleagues

CONTROVERSIAL  government spokesman Jimmy Manyi has angered government communicators after accusing some of them of failing to effectively communicate for their departments.

Manyi, who is embroiled in a controversy over his comments about coloureds in the Western Cape, gave government communicators a tongue-lashing at his first meeting with them in Pretoria two weeks ago. He instructed them to pull up their socks and issue media releases and organise press conferences on a weekly basis.

Government spokesmen, who spoke to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, were seething after the meeting, accusing Manyi of failing to understand how the government functioned.

“You cannot just convene a press conference to talk about anything. There must be a serious or a burning issue to warrant a press conference or a press release,” said an angry spokesman.

Another said Manyi was displaying his lack of understanding of how government departments functioned and how communication strategies were developed and executed within those departments.

“He is a corporate branding and strategy person who clearly doesn’t understand media liaison. The man is clueless,” said another.

Several other spokesmen who were at the meeting said some of the communicators took Manyi on, telling him that it was “senseless” for all 34 government departments to issue press releases and convene press conferences on a weekly basis.

They pointed out that government departments were not all the same and that some were in charge of functions that were not regarded as “media sexy”, while others often made the news.

Manyi told the Sunday Times on Friday that he was surprised government communicators had leaked details of a private meeting.

“It’s a disciplinary matter for government communicators to discuss with you what happened in a private meeting. You are very ill-disciplined as a government communicator if you take that sort of information and franchise it to the media,” he said.

He said he had drawn up a new communication strategy and planned to present it to the cabinet soon.

Manyi, who is president of the Black Management Forum, has been in the firing line after he remarked during a TV interview last year that coloureds needed to move out of the Western Cape to increase their chances of finding jobs.

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