Former President Jacob Zuma has a new spokesperson – Mzwanele Manyi, who was once the owner of now-defunct TV news channel ANN7 and newspaper New Age.
Zuma’s daughter, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, announced Manyi’s appointment via Twitter on Tuesday (15 June).
“BREAKING NEWS: The Jacob G Zuma Foundation appoints @MzwaneleManyi, through his communications outfit, to provide spokesperson services for the Foundation and its Patron, H.E. @PresJGZuma on all matters including arms deal case,” Zuma Sambudla tweeted.
She accompanied her tweet with pictures of Zuma and Manyi, apparently taken at the former President’s residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.
Manyi confirmed his appointment in a retweet of Zuma-Sambudla’s tweet. “It is my singular honour and privilege to be of service to the Foundation and its Patron, H.E. Mr JG Zuma,” he wrote.
The Foundation has often released statements on Zuma’s court cases, including the arms deal case, and spats with the state capture commission of inquiry.
Manyi served as Director-General of the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) between 2011 and 2012. Zuma was President at the time.
In 2017, Oakbay, the company owned by state capture-accused Gupta family, announced that it was selling ANN7 and New Age to Manyi’s company Lodidox for R450 million.
He subsequently changed the names of the two media entities to AfroVoice and AfroWorldview. However, they wound up operations just over a year later.
The Gupta family stands accused of using their proximity to Zuma to allegedly influence contracts at state-owned enterprises in their favour.
Manyi, formerly an ANC member, remained a staunch Zuma supporter even after quitting the party in 2018. He later joined the African Transformation Movement (ATM), where he now serves as a policy guru.
He and other ATM leaders have had to ward off allegations that the party was formed with the blessing of Zuma and suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, ostensibly to weaken ANC’s performance at the 2019 elections.
Manyi also appeared at the state capture commission of inquiry in 2018 and 2019 to respond to various allegations, including reports that the New Age received R6.3 million in advertising revenue from the government when he was head of GCIS.