You wouldn’t think anyone would have to walk on eggshells just to have the right to plan stuff, but such is the odd position of planning minister and Cosatu hate figure Trevor Manuel. He addressed the parliamentary ad-hoc committee yesterday making a plea for his new unit to be allowed to do its work and promising not to stand in the way of policy. In an oblique reference to being singled out by Cosatu after presenting a green paper on his new ministry, Manuel said the proposals for a national planning commission were not “written in the pub down the road”, but carried the authority of the cabinet. Cosatu has accused Manuel of trying to create a super ministry which would see him become SA’s de facto “prime minister”. Rather rich coming from labour commissar Zwelinzima Vavi. The major recipient of capital inflows over the past decade have all been countries with planning capabilities, including China, India, Brazil and Malaysia, he told the committee. But in a sort of act of appeasement to Cosatu he added, “we think we shouldn’t be gatekeepers on policy”. Manuel’s high wire act reflects the tricky distinction between “policy” and “planning” – where does one start and the other end, and the answer to that remains a contested issue.
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