Trevor Manuel: Firms do too little for transformation

Trevor Manuel
Trevor Manuel

Rustenburg – When it comes to nation building and transformation, firms do too little, according to Trevor Manuel.

The former minister in the presidency for the National Planning Commission (NPC) and current non-executive chairperson of Old Mutual Group Holdings, delivered an address at the Insurance Institute of South Africa (IISA) Insurance Conference for 2016 at Sun City, on Monday. He highlighted the role of firms in transforming society and the responsibility firms have to unite the country.

Referring to the National Development Plan (NDP) released in 2011, Manuel said it was set out to be about “active citizenship”.  One of the goals of the plan was transformation to address a society still divided by the legacy of Apartheid. Manuel made reference to the recent racial comments made on social media by real estate agents Penny Sparrow and Vicky Momberg, in unrelated incidents, as well as Matthew Theunissen.  “Given our history, we must be less tolerant of these issues,” said Manuel.

“Industry is competent enough to help society transform,” he added. He spoke out against the mentality of simply forgetting about Apartheid. The Constitution recognises the wrongs of past and then makes a commitment to lay the foundation for a democratic and open society, for the future, he explained.

For South Africa to truly becoming an inclusive society, firms need to educate their staff on things that matter, he said. “We are not using the space to concentrate on how to interrelate and become better citizens. There is an amazing opportunity for an effect.”

Secondly, industries should begin to change, to address future issues. “The industry as it was in the past won’t be able to deal with challenges of the future,” he explained. “We must approach the future with a different mind to the past and different tools we used in the past.” Change will begin to happen once workers are engaged with and understand what they do. This will encourage innovation, he said. Part of moving South Africa forward is realising the importance of values.

He said the insurance industry in particular should lead the change, given that the nature of risk changes so rapidly.

In responding to a question on whether he believed the ANC of today, was the ANC of 1994, Manuel said that it wasn’t. “We don’t deal with life in static form,” he explained. And he also drew on the example that the DA of today is not the same as that of 1994, because it didn’t exist then.

When it comes to solving corruption, Manuel said the criminal justice system of the country should be strengthened. “Society wants to know there are consequences and that the consequences are enforced.” 

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