'I will not apologise': Trevor Manuel on his 'decades wasted' comments

26 August 2020 - 11:53 By Unathi Nkanjeni
Trevor Manuel says he won’t apologise for ANC comment.
Trevor Manuel says he won’t apologise for ANC comment.
Image: Esa Alexander

Former ANC NEC member Trevor Manuel has responded to the party's statement lambasting him, saying he will not apologise for his “decades wasted” comments.

Manuel was quoted at the weekend in a Fin24 article saying the party led SA for “almost three decades that were wasted”.

Manuel is said to have made the remarks during a webinar hosted by the Catholic parliamentary liaison office and the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

After his comments, the ANC issued a statement saying Manuel’s remarks sought to paint a picture that poverty, unemployment and inequality in the country only started in 1994.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said that while they respect Manuel’s right to freedom of speech, “there is absolutely no basis to portray a doom-laden picture of the country to the media and the outside world”.

“We are painfully aware of an ongoing onslaught against our movement being desperately choreographed on various social media platforms and urge Manuel not to fall into this trap,” said Mabe.

Speaking on SAfm on Tuesday, Manuel said he will not apologise for the comments.

Manuel said he meant “10 years wasted”, and the point he was making was about a “lost decade”, referring to former president Jacob Zuma’s term.

“I will not apologise for the basic premise which is 10 wasted years and we can track that. Ahead of the 10 wasted years and ahead of Polokwane you can see what happened in the economy, there was growth, there was employment creation,” said Manuel. “The lives of South Africans were improving, but it is not possible to say that and talk about 30 wasted years as though there is no contradiction.”

Manuel said he was not contacted by the ANC before the statement was released.

He also weighed in on the corruption in the ANC, saying not everyone in the party is corrupt.

“Not everybody in the ANC is corrupt, and let me say to the secretary-general of the ANC that neither I, my family, nor anybody I know has done business with the government. It isn’t so that everybody in the ANC does business in government, perhaps it applies in his circles, it doesn’t apply in the majority in the movement.”

Manuel was referring to secretary-general Ace Magashule’s claim that every leader in the ANC does or has done business with the government.

Clarity on 'three wasted decades'

According to the ANC, Manuel clarified the “three wasted decades” remarks in a letter, which has not been made public.

Mabe said the party accepted Manuel's clarification and that his credibility and contribution in the ANC has never been in question. 

“We take Manuel’s concern that facts should have been verified upfront and welcome the steps he has taken to have the Catholic parliamentary liaison office publish the link of the debate on their website,” said Mabe. “The ANC has always appreciated open and frank engagements on the state of the nation across all facets.

“It is for this reason that we will never censor anyone, including Manuel, from expressing their views or providing the necessary clarity on any area of misunderstanding. This is part of our democratic culture as the ANC.”

PODCAST | Ramaphosa's open letter against corruption rings hollow

Subscribe: iono.fm | Spotify | Apple Podcast | Pocket Casts | Player.fm