Business, Politics

Manyi, the BMF and conflicts of employment

By Branko Brkic 7 October 2009

Can a government man run a forum that interacts with government on behalf of its members? We'll know the answer later this afternoon.

Expect some interesting – but sadly closed-door – machinations at the Black Management Forum annual meeting later today. In the red corner, wearing the blue trunks is Jimmy Manyi, the current champion, master of the public profile, and fresh from his new day job appointment as director-general of Labour.

Gaba Tabane is the new-comer, the current managing director of the forum. He’s sounded quite defensive over the last few days, as has Manyi. The big question of course, is how can Manyi run the forum when he holds down a government job. Technically, the forum’s constitution doesn’t rule him out for that seeming conflict; there’s no mention of government appointments being ineligible to hold forum offices. 

But it cannot be that simple. The Black Management’s Forum’s main role (in the eye of us as non-members, anyway) is surely to help black people succeed in business. It is a noble aim, and should be encouraged. The Labour Department’s role is to regulate employment. That leads to Affirmative Action, but surely its real job is to ensure that the law of the land is followed in business. That would seem to attach some kind of conflict to Manyi.

Last night on a radio interview with 702, Manyi sounded a lot like former President Thabo Mbeki just before the ANC Polokwane conference. “It’s up to the members”, “we’ll find out at the AGM”, and our favourite “whenever there’s a contested election, there will be some conflict”. The real issue, is that he has the main job he wants, at the Labour Department. Now he seems to be trying to bite off some more.

The BMF AGM is due to start at 1400 today, it should finish at around 1600, which is the earliest we can expect an outcome. Watch this space.


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