Zuma hits out at Manuel

2013-04-10 15:45

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President Jacob Zuma has given his Cabinet minister Trevor Manuel a tongue-lashing for saying the ANC government cannot blame apartheid for the country’s problems.

Speaking at an event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the assassination of SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Chris Hani in Boksburg today, Zuma said the damage apartheid wrought was going to be “with us for some time”.

“(It) is impossible that within 20 years you could change the damage of centuries. The legacy of apartheid runs too deep and too far back for the democratic administration to reverse it in so short a period, unless you were a magician,” he said.

However, Zuma emphasised the need to ratchet up service delivery to improve the lot of poor people.

“As leaders and civil servants in this fourth administration we must work harder and faster and more efficiently to ensure that true freedom reaches the poor and the working class in a shorter time than apartheid and colonialism took to render them pariahs in the land of their birth,” he said.

Manuel, who is the minister in charge of the National Planning Commission in the presidency, last week told a civil summit that apartheid was no longer an excuse as the democratic government approached nearly two decades in power.

Manuel made the comments while Zuma was in Chad at a meeting to address the crisis in the Central African Republic last week.

Zuma said the damage of apartheid would linger beyond the current generation, saying “to suggest that we cannot blame apartheid for what is happening is in our country is a mistake, to say the least”. He cited social inequalities which he said rendered the country “two in one” and which were not created by the post-1994 government.

On Monday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande was quoted in Sowetan taking issue with Manuel’s remarks.

Zuma said honouring Hani’s memory would be done through delivering a better life for all South Africans.

He said government had made huge strides in extending basic services such as water and electricity, and extending social welfare.

“We still face major challenges but the determination to find solutions remain high. And we have a plan such as the National Development Plan and action plans within it such as the new growth path to help us achieve decent jobs.

“As we mark the 19th year of freedom and democracy, we emphasise that leaders in government and public servants must work to improve the lives of the poor,” he said.

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