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Compiled by Getrude Makhafola

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Nzimande and his deputy fight over media coverage – report

Nzimande and Manamela's working relationship tanked ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle in March.

A row has erupted between Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his deputy, Buti Manamela, over who gets the media limelight.

The two seem to be at loggerheads over protocol and how things should be done in the department, according to reports in the Sunday Times and City Press.

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In a recording obtained by the Sunday Times, Nzimande is heard complaining about not getting media coverage in a meeting with senior staffers, including director-general (DG) Nkosinathi Sishi and spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi.

He complained that he is never covered live, yet he is the department’s chief spokesperson.

“Why? Is there someone with an issue with me in the department? I wanted an explanation here as to why is that the case.

“Friday was worse, in fact, it was embarrassing. I am not in competition, DG, but we should never have a function competing with the minister, even if it is the deputy minister,” Nzimande is heard in the leaked audio.

Stern directive

Nzimande further issued a directive to Manamela, telling him all communications on public events has to first be approved by his office.

Manamela held meetings with Special Investigating Unit (SIU) head Advocate Mothibi, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) CEO, and several CEOs of SETAs as part of his work without consulting his senior, agreeing that he should have informed him.

The deputy minister further noted that he “shouldn’t have invited Ramaphosa to an activity with students on Robben Island without having considered certain protocols” and the event should have never taken place without Nzimande’s knowledge.

“I am not aware of such protocols and that common courtesies as agreed in our second meeting held about September 2021 was that we will both share our diaries through your chief of staff and my head of office,” Manamela was quoted by the newspaper.

Manamela reportedly told the minister that they were both appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and that he won’t stand the “schoolboy daily monitoring” by Nzimande.

In response, Nzimande told Manamela to familiarise himself with the constitution and all legal frameworks regarding the role of a minister.

“This will help you understand the fact that there is only one minister and one executive authority in the ministry.”

Relationship deterioration

Nzimande and Manamela, who are both leaders in the SA Communist Party (SACP), had a good working relationship until Ramaphosa held consultative meetings ahead of the Cabinet reshuffle in March.

According to City Press, the rift in government has also affected the SACP.

Tripartite alliance insiders said the tension escalated during Ramaphosa’s consultative processes with the SACP and trade union federation Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).

According to the sources, Ramaphosa was considering a suggestion that Manamela takeover from Nzimande, but ultimately decided against it, the publication reported.

Following the Cabinet reshuffle, Nzimande and Manamela held a meeting in Cape Town on February 1, in which Nzimande instructed him to get his approval first for public engagements.

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