Months of speculation ended on Sunday when president Jacob Zuma appointed Trevor Manuel to head up the new planning commission which will be responsible for long-term strategic planning of government.
Manuel, who had been finance minister since 1996, was appointed as a minister in the new beefed-up presidency, which will now have two high-level ministers and will house the planning commission.
In his first press briefing at the Union Buildings on Sunday, Zuma said he expected a positive reaction from the markets to Manuel’s appointment.
‘I cannot predict the markets, I think the markets react to a number of issues, not only Cabinet appointments, depending on how they feel and what is their mood. I think the markets are going to react very positively, normally. â€
Manuel’s successor is former head of the South African Revenue Services (Sars), Pravin Gordhan.
Zuma had to co-opt Gordhan to the Cabinet because Gordhan is not a member of Parliament. Zuma is allowed to co-opt two Cabinet members in this fashion.
Gordhan and Manuel are known to have a close working relationship.
Manuel will be tasked with devising the national plan, which will have take a holistic view of the work of government and how it will be implemented. The planning commission will also be tasked with monitoring and evaluating government programmes and officials.
‘Following extensive research on international models on how government in other parts of the world plan and monitor performance, we have decided to establish a national planning commission which will be based in the presidency. This would enable us to take a more comprehensive view of socio-economic development in the country.â€
Zuma was unclear on who will have the final say in economic policies.
‘The planning commission deals with the national plan, all encompassing in whatever sphere and does not exclude economic matters. In this ministry [finance] it is more specialised.â€
Zuma dismissed claims that Manuel’s powerful stature in Cabinet is diminished by his new position.
‘Trevor is being given a new structure, a very powerful structure that will draw up the national plan. He understands government inside out,â€ Zuma said, referring to Manuel being one of the longest -serving finance ministers in the world.