Trevor Manuel. Picture: Candice Chaplin.

Bloemfontein - “I have nowhere to go. No one else wants me, so South Africa will be stuck with me,” Planning Minister Trevor Manuel told an audience of business leaders at the ANC conference yesterday.

He was responding to a question over whether his skills would be lost to the National Planning Commission, which he chairs, after he announced his withdrawal as a candidate for the 80-member ANC national executive committee.

It is not clear whether Manuel will remain in politics after the next national election scheduled for 2014, but he has already indicated that he would not be quitting his current ministerial post in this term.

A sentiment expressed at the conference was that the election of deputy planning commission chairman Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC deputy president meant that he could take a key role in driving the 20-year National Development Plan.

However, Ramaphosa is not yet an MP, let alone deputy president of the country, which means that Manuel will continue to drive the commission’s work in the cabinet for now.

At a Progressive Business Forum breakfast, Manuel was asked how he could justify his remark that South Africa could not tolerate “even a little bit of corruption” yet it seemed that the government was tolerant of “a lot of corruption”, including the spending of an alleged R250 million of taxpayers’ money on the private compound of President Jacob Zuma.

Manuel responded angrily: “There have to be consequences [for corruption]… you can’t tolerate it.”

Manuel asked the questioner if he had “any evidence” of corruption at Nkandla. If so, he should “take the evidence to the law enforcement authorities… my battle with the press is that it levels accusations without following the procedures. You have that responsibility.” – Donwald Pressly