University of Cape Town (UCT): ‘Reboot South Africa’, Trevor Manuel warns

Former Minister of Finance in South Africa and Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel said South Africa needs a process that involves “ the collaborative pressing of three keys: ctrl + alt + delete” to fix what’s broken in the country.


“ We need to reboot who we’re and ( concentrate on) what we want to be. But utmost of all, we need everybody to take responsibility, and that responsibility will be in icing that those who are paid to represent our interests actually do so and not just pretend to do so,” he said.

Manuel made these and other commentaries during the periodic University of Cape Town (UCT) Legacy Society guest lecture held in collaboration with UCT’s Summer School on Saturday, 22 January.

His talk was named “ South Africa Challenges and what lies ahead.”
During the late afternoon lecture, Manuel touched on four critical issues that unfolded in the country during the first limited weeks of 2022. These include;

  • the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture Report Part 1
  • the fire at parliament
  • the “ wrangle between the still-serving Minister of Tourism” Lindiwe Sisulu and President Cyril Ramaphosa
  • the recent battle between members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and restauranteurs in Tshwane over hiring foreign citizens in their establishments.

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“ How these issues are handled will affect all of us in this country intergenerationally into the future.”

That’s a massive statement to make, but it’s something that I’m truly induced upon,” he said.

A deleterious report

Manuel said South Africa has enormous undetermined issues and part of them relate to the “ untreated business” that stems from the transition to the first popular election in 1994.

“ We espoused a Constitution on 6 May 1996 … and it (the Constitution) makes important commitments about all of us.

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The big issue is that we, the people who have lived under intolerance and who were part of the transition into the republic, have done veritably little to change who we’re and how we engage with each other,” he said.

He said a myriad of issues have been stressed in the State Capture report, including the state of state-possessed enterprises like Eskom, Transnet, and the South African Airways (SAA).

“ The thing that we’ve to recognize is that the Zondo Report says they’re gone,” he said.

Also, Manuel said, the former commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) Tom Moyane has left a long line of destruction, and rebuilding that institution will be a “ mammoth task”.

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He also noted that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) – a basic organ of state – has suffered an analogous fate under its former head Sean Abrahams, and despite the appointment of Shamila Batohi as the new head, the institution has been fully tainted.

“ The entity (NPA) has been fully hollowed out … it’s a deep, deep tragedy.

“ The reality (NPA) has been fully hollowed out … it’s a deep, deep tragedy,” he said.
But Manuel said how South Africans deal with what has surfaced from the Zondo Report is what matters most.

“ What happens to this destruction? How do you deal with events of a shipwrecking ball long after the individualities have been named and lowered?” he asked.

The fire at parliament

Following parliament’s ruinous fire on 2 January, which destroyed parts of the National Council of Businesses building, the National Assembly, and other office and recreational spaces, Manuel said the rebuilding process is critical.

As the process unfolds, he encouraged South Africans to take an interest in parliament and to engage more on administrative matters to hold individualities responsible.

To make a point, he quoted the preamble of the Constitution “

We, the people of South Africa, fete the injustices of history, recognize those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to assemble and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.”

Manuel said the Constitution also states that perfecting the quality of life for all citizens and freeing the eventuality of each person is imperative.

Yet, he added, South Africa continues to deal with an education and health extremity, and thousands of people don’t have access to introductory services like water and sanitation.

The government needs to impact and transfigure these critical areas as a matter of urgency to achieve the ideals set out in the preamble of the Constitution.


“ Parliament is anticipated to deal with these issues. So, what kind of parliament do we want and need to be suitable to deal with these issues?

This is the that we aren’t having, and if we don’t deal with this, it’ll have consequences for a long time,” he said.

‘ Atrocious’ commentary

Turning his attention to Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu, Manuel described her commentary on the judiciary as “ atrocious and vulgar”.

Sisulu lately published a column that claimed the Constitution and the judiciary is used to maintain systems of poverty and oppression, and she entered wide commination.

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“ I don’t know what gives anybody the right to make those ( statements).”

We’re privileged to have some of the most amazing justices,” he said.

Manuel said that being part of any institution, UCT means that you need to observe and cleave to the rules and regulations of that institution.

Still, also abdicate, “ If you want to defy those rules. We must encourage people to do so so that at every given time, the people who sit in that cabinet are people of unimpeachable integrity. They need to be fit to lead us,” he said.

A reminder of the past

When members of the EFF took to Menlyn Mall last week – defying restauranteurs about their staff complement to establish how numerous foreign citizens have been employed in their establishments – Manuel said it reminded him of the intolerance police parading the thoroughfares demanding evidence of the compass ( dumb pass) – one of the most despised symbols of intolerance.

“ It’s a nightmare part of our history. We allowed we’d noway repeat it and now it’s being done,” he said.

“ We don’t need a new political party; we need a different converse.”

He questioned why the police were nowhere in sight to apply the law and to advance the interests of a group of hardworking people who serve the likes of himself and numerous others when they frequent caffs as patrons.

“ As a nation, we must move beyond events and adverts and specs and try and concentrate on what matters in the lives of people. However, we have a responsibility to include them in these issues,”

Manuel said If people feel barred.
But working on these issues requires trust.

We’re not going to break these issues without trust. We need to look beyond the political parties in South Africa. We don’t need a new political party; we need a different converse.

There must be led, informed, and participatory ( conversations). Part of it must include participation by-governmental associations. And it must always include responsibility,” he said.