Mister Speaker, Mister Deputy President and Honourable Members,
I am greatly honoured by the privilege to, on behalf of the United Democratic Movement (UDM), deliver a farewell speech to Minister Trevor Manuel.
Minister Manuel has been an outstanding servant of the people and as a result, it is impossible for anyone to claim not to know him given the number of lives he has touched during his terms in Office.
When you moved from Trade and Industry to Finance on 4 April 1996, you took charge of the finances of a South Africa that faced a compendium complex of challenges.
First, you had to help the Nation to reconcile the conflicting fundamental values between democracy and capitalism in a country, where many people did not believe that the two could coexist harmoniously.
Democracy, as you know, puts emphasis on producing political accountability and on joint interests and equality, while capitalism entails the seeking of one’s own self interests.
Through your outstanding leadership Sir, you proved that the two could exist side-by-side when capitalism was given a more humane face.
Second, you took charge of the Finance Portfolio of a country that had limited resources and whose people were still deeply polarised along racial lines and whose socio- economic inequality levels were high due to the misguided policies of the past.
Working under the ruling party Government, you adopted income redistribution policies which sought to achieve political and social stability in order to provide a secure context for economic growth.
Though the needs and demands of the country were numerous, your idealistic approach to meeting our challenges was invariably imbued with a deep sense of pragmatism.
You always ensured that in modernising our economy the policy choices and responses Government made were proportionate to circumstance and were sustainable. Nowhere is this more succinctly captured than in the legacy of fiscal prudence you left the Finance Portfolio.
When I met Minister Manuel at the Union Buildings more than a year ago during public consultations on the National Development Plan (NDP), he came across as a leader who was willing to sublimate his individual interests to those of the collective. I was truly inspired by the humility and the outstanding leadership qualities of this intellectual giant. It is therefore not surprising that he leaves behind the National Development Plan (NDP) as one of his shining legacies.
Fellow South Africans,
As young people, the best farewell we can give to Minister Manuel is peace of mind that we too will leave South Africa in an even better condition for both current and future generations.
Farewell son of the soil. South Africans of all races are going to miss your outstanding leadership qualities in the public sector and your sheer dedication to your job. You have served our Nation with distinction!
However, given your skills, knowledge, expertise, the love and respect the people have for you as well as how much they still desire your services – as Abe Lemons once put it: “The trouble with your retirement is that you will never get a day off.”