MUGSHOT

JIMMY MANYI

Finweek English Edition - - The Finweek -

“DEMOC­RACY must ac­com­mo­date African cul­ture, oth­er­wise it is not democ­racy.” There was some­thing sur­real about that disin­gen­u­ous gaffe about press free­dom by Depart­ment of Labour di­rec­tor-gen­eral Jimmy Manyi. Is South Africa a coun­try of black cor­po­rate hus­tlers cel­e­brat­ing their ar­cane deals in back­room con­fabs? Or is it a coun­try of deeply im­pov­er­ished peo­ple for whom press free­dom means the right to ex­pose the per­fid­i­ous un­der­belly of the “new” African cul­ture: mu­nif­i­cent di­rec­tor­ships, “Tus­can” homes in golf and coun­try es­tates and the fawn­ing of white tech­nocrats in thrall to cap­i­tal­ism’s lat­est su­per cult?

What may seem tempt­ing to a class of poor peo­ple – Manyi’s reck­less call for rad­i­cal land re­form and a big­ger pres­ence of black man­agers in cor­po­rate board­rooms and now re­stric­tions on the press – has a psy­cho­log­i­cal ex­piry date: it’s al­ready un­rav­el­ling as noth­ing more than an ide­o­log­i­cal bar­rage (un­der the cover of cul­ture) for a pa­tron­age econ­omy in which a black elite flour­ishes.

Re­mem­ber, this is a man who mouths off from the ex­alted po­si­tion of se­nior ex­ec­u­tive at Tiger Brands, a com­pany only re­cently im­pli­cated in the worst crime against the poor: fix­ing the bread price.

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