Jimmy Manyi, the spokesperson for the government of South Africa, has come under fire for perceived racialist comments he has made about the country’s mixed race people and about Indian immigrants.
In an interview from last year, which had resurfaced, Manyi, who is also the president of the Confederation of Black Business Organisations, complained that there is an over supply of coloureds (mixed race people) in Western Cape Province.
That elicited a furious from one of South Africa's most powerful ministers, Trevor Manuel, who has accused Manyi of the worst order of racism.
Manuel is the most prominent member of the coloured community in the government.
Manuel, a minister in charge of economic policy, is the first minister to comment on the row, wrote in an open letter to Manyi: These statements would make you a racist in the mould of HF Verwoerd [former South African prime minister, founder of apartheid]. I now know who Nelson Mandela was talking about when he said from the dock that he had fought against white domination and that he had fought against black domination - Jimmy, he was talking about fighting against people like you.
The ruling Africa National Congress (ANC) has distanced itself from Manyi's comments, calling them disturbing and unacceptable.
The furor over Manyi’s comments come on the heels of a controversial column written by Kuli Roberts which was also deemed as racialist against mixed race people.
Although she apologized for her remarks, her paper, the Sunday World tabloid discontinued her column. Avusa Ltd., which owns the tabloid, said the column was derogatory and encouraged racial stereotypes.
I am truly sorry to all those upset by my last column. No harm was intended. Once again it was never my plan to upset and I pray forgiveness, Roberts said on Twitter.
Manyi is also being criticized for comments he made about South Africa’s Indian population.
Indians, we should be having only 3 percent [of positions on management]. They are sitting at 5.9 percent. I call it the power of bargaining. Indians have bargained their way to the top, Manyi said in an address to the Durban Chamber of Commerce last year when he served as labour department director-general at the time.
Manyi defended his comments as having been made in jest.
The Democratic Alliance, the political party which governs the Western Cape province, has called for Manyi's dismissal.