Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s former finance minister who heads the National Planning Commission, pledged his loyalty to the ruling African National Congress as he announced he is quitting parliamentary politics.
Manuel and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announced their retirement in the National Assembly in Cape Town yesterday and the ANC omitted their names from its list of nominee lawmakers for May 7 elections. Under South Africa’s constitution, the deputy president must be selected from members of the assembly, while only two cabinet ministers may be appointed who aren’t members of Parliament.
Manuel, 58, served as finance minister from 1996 to 2009 and helped oversee the country’s longest period of economic growth on record. President Jacob Zuma then appointed him to head the planning commission, which was given the assignment of developing a 20-year blueprint for the economy, known as the National Development Plan, or NDP.
“The ANC flows through my veins,” said Manuel, who has been a lawmaker since the party took power in the nation’s first all-race elections in 1994. “It’s not a job, it’s a belief system. I will always remain a loyal and disciplined member of the ANC. None of this would have happened in my life without the ANC affording me the opportunity to serve my people.”
Motlanthe, 64, a former labor union leader, served as president for eight months after the ANC ousted Thabo Mbeki in September 2008. He relinquished the post to Zuma after April 2009 elections to take up his present position. He failed in a bid to wrest control of the party from Zuma at an electoral conference in December 2012.
“At some point serving leadership must give way so that new blood, fired up with life-changing ideas, can take society to a higher level of development,” Motlanthe told lawmakers. “I’m happy to have played the small part that history has assigned to me.”
Motlanthe is to head a new political school being established by the ANC. Manuel didn’t reveal his plans.
The retirements were widely anticipated and are unlikely to have a major bearing on policy, said Jac Laubscher, group economist of Cape Town-based Sanlam Ltd., the biggest South Africa-based life insurer. Motlanthe will probably be replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC’s deputy leader and deputy chairman of the National Planning Commission.
“The business community likes Cyril Ramaphosa,” Laubscher said by phone from Cape Town yesterday. “If he does become deputy president, it will cement the position of the NDP” as the government’s main policy framework.
The plan sets out the investment needed in roads and rail, health, education and other services to boost growth and calls for a review of labor laws to encourage hiring and create 11 million new jobs by 2030.