Although the outspoken Mzwanele Manyi has not been deployed to parliament by the African Transformation Movement, he is confident the new kid on the block will ruffle feathers in the House.
The ATM won two seats in the National Assembly. Its president, Vuyolwethu Zungula, and Thandiswa Marawu, a former ANC Eastern Cape provincial treasurer and former MEC of public works and transport, would represent the new party in the House.
Regarding the view of some that Manyi was an ideal candidate for parliament because of his ability to articulate political and economic issues well, he said deployment of members to any institution was at the behest of the party.
“I will always be guided by the party in what to do,” he added.
He was adamant the ATM would use the parliamentary platform to bring people’s issues to the forefront. He said ATM wanted to push for the Africanisation of the country’s constitution so it was in line with African culture and beliefs.
“Our issue in parliament won’t be any different from what we have been raising. We are going to Africanise the constitution of the republic and we will try and persuade other parties to understand that it is in the interests of all of us that our constitution talks to all of us in the country.”
He said although there had been some improvement in the introduction of African Customary Law, South Africa’s legislation still played second fiddle to Roman Dutch Law, which undermined the legislative and legal set-up.
“We want to upgrade the status of customary law so that, as an African, you don’t feel out of place on your own continent. We will also lobby other parties about some of the economic laws that continue to oppress our people.”
Among the oppressive laws he highlighted was the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, which he said was biased towards big business at the expense of small and medium-sized enterprises and black business in general.
“We will persuade other parties so that we can repeal that law.”
To boost the economic standing of blacks in particular, the ATM planned to lobby for the restructuring of the Construction Industry Development Board. This was to ensure many more people were able to access opportunities in the construction space than under the current system.
“So we have to look at ways that the law can be reviewed,” Manyi said.
He added that the ATM would also push for the establishment of a state bank, which he described as a “crucial instrument” to fund small, micro and medium-sized enterprises, offer mortgage bonds and finance special projects, such as in agriculture and rural development in general.
“The establishment of a state bank will make sure a lot more people participate in the economy. These are the top-of-mind issues we will be driving in parliament.”
Although the ATM was a new player, it was open to aligning with anyone or party that shared its vision.
“Anyone that wants to work with us, that shares our value systems, our strategies and our approaches is more than welcome,” he said.
Manyi dismissed as “absolute nonsense” suggestions that ATM was a secret project of Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.
Manyi left the ANC early this year for the ATM, which offered him the position of head of policy and strategy. He is a former president of the Black Management Forum, the Progressive Professional Forum and a former government spokesperson in the Zuma administration. He briefly ran the Guptas’ former publication, The New Age, and their former TV channel, ANN7.