Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Manuel may move to new body

Reuters / April 26th 2009

Respected Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is likely to be moved to a powerful new body to oversee government performance when Jacob Zuma takes office, a newspaper said on Sunday.

Manuel's fate is closely watched by markets, keen he stays on in the post-election government with a strong role to shape policy because of his reputation for keeping checks on spending and maintaining stability.

Zuma is set to take office on May 9 after the ruling African National Congress won a sweeping election victory. The Sunday Times said Zuma was already in talks with party leaders on the new cabinet. It did not give details of its sources.

"Likely changes include appointing Finance Minister Trevor Manuel as the head of the planning commission, a powerful new structure which is going to monitor government performance," the paper said.

"The commission will operate from within the presidency but it will function outside of the cabinet, and several senior cabinet ministers will serve on the commission," it said, adding that Manuel's staff recently held a farewell function for him.

There was no immediate comment from officials.

Manuel has made clear he is ready to stay in the government and ANC bigwigs have said they want him to stay on, at least for a couple of years to be able to train up a successor.

Reports that Manuel was likely to stay have helped to strengthen the rand currency. South Africa faces its first recession in 17 years and Zuma has been at pains to stress continuity in pro-business policies.

The Sunday Times said that possible new finance ministers would be businessman Cyril Ramaphosa and current deputy Nhlanhla Nene. But it said Ramaphosa had declined an invitation for a cabinet position.