ANC lashes out at Trevor Manuel for 'almost 30 wasted years' remark

Trevor Manuel is the country's longest-serving finance minister since 1994 'and should know better', according to the ANC.
Trevor Manuel is the country's longest-serving finance minister since 1994 'and should know better', according to the ANC.
Image: Sunday Times/Esa Alexander

The ANC has lambasted its former national executive committee (NEC) member Trevor Manuel for apparently referring to the party’s reign over the country as “almost 30 wasted years”.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said Manuel’s remarks sought to paint a picture that poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country only started in 1994. This was incorrect, said Mabe, because the ANC inherited all those problems from the apartheid regime.

Manuel, as the country’s longest-serving finance minister after 1994, ought to understand this better than anyone, said Mabe. A lot had been done by the ANC government since the dawn of democracy, and more was still being done to change the lives of ordinary South Africans.

“Since the democratic breakthrough of 1994, the people of SA have entrusted the ANC government with the responsibility to transform the economy and create a better life for all,” said Mabe.

“Since 1994, the quality of life of South Africans has shown tremendous improvement. For example, we have expanded access to clean drinking water, housing, education and social security, and improved the quality of health-care services for the majority of South Africans. We have also increased the literacy levels of South Africans.

“In the recent past, we have been hard at work to ensure we alter apartheid spatial planning by ensuring more South Africans live closer to economic opportunities. In 1994, 26 years ago, the ANC inherited a country where the majority of South Africans were excluded from participation in the mainstream economy. We took it upon ourselves to formulate and implement many policies to transform the economy to benefit the majority.”

Mabe said the ANC respected Manuel’s right to an opinion, but said “there is absolutely no basis to portray a doom-laden picture of the country to the media and to the outside world”.

This, he said, particularly from ANC members like Manuel, fed into the “ongoing onslaught against our movement being desperately choreographed on social media platforms”.

“We urge Manuel not to fall into this trap,” Mabe said.

The spokesperson said the ANC has increasingly faced public outrage over the government’s perceived looting of Covid-19 funds and failure to steer the country in the right direction.

The criticism resulted in an anti-ANC Twitter hashtag that has trended every Friday for several weeks.

Mabe said these were unwarranted attacks on the ANC government, which was guided by “responsible stewardship over the country’s resources through growth, clean governance, innovation and empowerment”.

He said: “We acknowledge that many economic problems continue to be based on the structures of inequality and underdevelopment inherited from SA’s colonial and apartheid past. The intensification of our interventions on the economy forms an integral part of our pro-poor path, uniting all South Africans to promote growth and development.

“Government has already begun taking decisive action to address some of the issues.”

Mabe said the “decisive action” being taken included:

  • Dealing with anticompetitive behaviour within the economy.
  • Making a conscious effort to promote good governance in state-owned enterprises to ensure they achieved their objectives.
  • Fiscal management biased towards growth, in particular supporting productive activities while dealing with legacy challenges.
  • An accelerated land-reform programme promoting development and sustainability.                  

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