Finance – since 1996
Trevor Manuel was appointed
on 4 April 1996 as Minister of Finance. The first non-white to hold this
position. Manuel honed his economic views and beliefs away from socialism
to a indigenous brand of social democracy. He has been the architect of
government's Growth, Employment and Redistribution strategy (Gear). The
fiscal conservatism of this policy and it's strict deficit targets have
come under fire from labour and the left in his own party, the African
National Congress. But Manuel stuck to this policy, making only minor tweaks
and changes to take account of the unstable international economy.
This earned him great respect
from international business and institutions like the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund. The South African economy has subsequently
weathered the storm better than most other emerging markets, though joblessness
is still a growing problem.
With the help of Andrew
Donaldson (one of his own appointees) he's restructured the budgeting policy
completely. The unpredictable year to year budgets by the National Party
has made way for a three year budget which makes for better development
planning and spending. In his role as Finance Minister, he displayed his
confidence by delivering the previous two annual budget speeches in several
According to Manuel a big
problem is that civil servants do not spend efficiently enough. Non-government
organisations and trade unions believe he is too tight with the state's
purse strings. Health and housing, amongst many other departments are feeling
the strain of fiscal constraints. Manuels key challenge ahead of the 1999
elections was to keep the budget within the targeted 3.9% of gross domestic
product and to cut government spending on civil servant salaries so that
the money could be diverted to delivering on ANC promises made in 1994.
Manuel sits on the national
working commitee of the ANC.
Prior to the 1994 elections
Manuel worked as a technician (he studied civil and structural engineering
at the Peninsula Technikon) and later at Mobil, but his early life was
consumed by the struggle. Using the terrible conditions the people lived
under on the Cape Flats, he quickly built a solid reputation. He became
regional secretary of the United Democratic Front in the Western
Cape. Between 1985 and 1990 he spent a total of 35 months in detention
due to the active role he played in the struggle.
1992 saw him become the
head of the ANC's department of economy policy planning and he was the
natural choice for the first Minister of Trade and Industry to be elected
by the new government in 1994. That turned out to be a holding position
for the big job which became his in 1996 when Derek Keys quit.
He was born on 31 January
Source: Mail & Guardian
– A-Z of South Arican politics 1999