Trevor Manuel served as a Cabinet Minister from 1994 to 2014 under the first four Presidents of democratic South Africa: Mandela, Mbeki, Motlanthe and Zuma. He was first appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Trade and Industry in May 1994, a portfolio he held for two years. In April 1996, he became Finance Minister, steering the South African economy for 13 years as
one of the world’s longest serving finance ministers. During his last term in office, he served as Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission, a position he held from May 2009 to May 2014. During his two decades as a Cabinet Minister he also served as a Member of Parliament, representing the African National Congress in a system of
His ministerial career highlights have tracked two decades of major social and economic development in the South African economy. As Minister of Trade and Industry, he led the process of reintegrating South Africa into the global economy after decades of sanctions and disinvestment. Domestically, he introduced extensive support measures for small, medium
and micro-enterprises to boost local economic development and grow business enterprise. During his lengthy tenure as Minister of Finance he stabilised the macro-economy returning the economy to growth, significantly transformed the fiscal system in respect of taxation and public spending, reduced South Africa’s fiscal deficit and debt, and introduced an intergovernmental system to efficiently manage expenditure across the three spheres of government. He spearheaded the Financial Sector Charter, a first of its kind in the country, aimed at transforming the financial sector and providing financial services to the majority of South Africans previously excluded from the formal economy. As Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, he oversaw the drafting of the broadly accepted and first National Development Plan for the country.
During his Ministerial career Manuel assumed a number of ex officio positions in international bodies, including the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, the IMF, the G20, the African Development Bank and the Southern African Development Community. He was elected by his peers as chair of a number of these bodies. He served two terms as Chairperson of the Development Committee of the World Bank.
He was also appointed to serve in various capacities in his own right. He was thus Special Envoy for Financing Development on two occasions, in 2001 and 2008, by successive Secretaries General of the United Nations. He served on various international commissions including the Task Force on Global Public Goods (2002/3), the Africa Commission (2005), the Commission on Growth and Development (2006 to 2010), the Global Ocean Commission (2012/4 – which he also co-chaired) and the Commission on the New Climate Economy (2013/4). He was requested to chair various Task Teams including on IMF Governance Reform (2007/8) and the World Bank Doing Business Report (2013).
Manuel has received a number of awards and recognitions, including Africa’s Finance Minister of the Year and the Woodrow Wilson Public Service award. He has 8 honorary doctorates from South African tertiary institutions in a range of disciplines Commerce, Law, Technology and a Doctor of Laws from MacMaster University, Ontario Canada. He has served as the Chancellor of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) since May 2008 until 2013.
He is an Honorary Professor at the Mandela School at UCT (since 2015) where he is a Senior Political Fellow, and as Professor Extraordinaire at the University of Johannesburg (since 2014).
Manuel is Chairperson of Old Mutual Limited. He is a Senior Advisor to and the Deputy Chairperson of Rothschild South Africa. He also serves as a Trustee on the Allan Gray Orbis Endowment Trust. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Centre for African Cities at UCT.