Phumla Williams and The New Age breakfasts
Regarding the testimony of acting GCIS CEO Phumla Williams, Manyi said: “It’s quite strange how Ms Williams operates. On the one side she says this and the next time she says something completely different.”
Manyi noted that, in her testimony, Williams had spoken about being “bullied” into participating in TNA business breakfasts, while in a 2013 letter she had spoken highly of the event.
The letter was allegedly written by Williams in her official capacity, in response to questions from journalist Ranjeni Munusamy.
Munusamy wanted to know why GCIS was involved in the “elitist” breakfasts, which were out of reach for ordinary South Africans.
Manyi read the letter in which Williams is said to have replied: “The concept of The New Age breakfast meeting was one which appealed to government as it presented the best of both worlds.”
“Government leaders could interact with the audience in attendance [at the TNA breakfast] and at the same time, reach millions of viewers,” the letter continued.
Manyi took this letter to mean that Williams was fully supportive of the endeavour.
However, when pressed by the commission chairperson, Judge Raymond Zondo, Manyi conceded that Williams may have made those remarks because she was responding in her capacity as an employee of the state, and those many not have been her personal views.
Encouraging the use of TNA
Manyi did not deny that he had advocated for the use of TNA services within GCIS.
“Almost definitely, I would have encouraged everyone I could come across because this was actually assisting in the government’s approach of multiplicity of voices,” he said.
He added: “Although I might not remember the specifics but it’s something that, generally, I would do because I thought it’s the right thing to do.”