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South Africa’s Manuel Says Government Spokesman Manyi Is Racist

March 2 (Bloomberg) -- Trevor Manuel, a minister in South Africa’s presidency, labeled the government’s chief spokesman a “racist” for saying there was an “over-concentration” of mixed-race people in the Western Cape.

Jimmy Manyi was appointed chief executive officer of the Government Communication and Information System on Feb. 2. His comments, made in a televised interview in March last year when he was head of the labor department, received widespread publicity this year after being posted on Google Inc.’s YouTube. Manyi is also president of the Black Management Forum, which lobbies for greater black involvement in Africa’s largest economy.

“You have the same mind that operated under apartheid,” Manuel, who heads South Africa’s National Planning Commission, wrote in an open letter to Manyi published by Independent Newspapers today. “You clearly fail to appreciate the extent to which your utterances are both unconstitutional and morally reprehensible.”

In a Feb. 25 statement, Manyi acknowledged that “offence was taken” at his comment and apologized unreservedly. Manyi did not immediately answer calls to his mobile phone seeking comment today.

Manuel, who is of mixed race, served as finance minister for 13 years prior to being appointed to his current post in May 2009. He is a senior member of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress.

The ANC’s youth league said it was disturbed by Manuel’s letter since the party has accepted Manyi’s public apology.

Manuel’s “remarks fall squarely into the political agenda of right-wing political forces opposed to the ANC,” the league said in an e-mailed statement. “Such conduct is totally out of order.”

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.

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