Speaking to CNBC Africa at the local WEF summit in Stellenbosch, former South African minister Manuel called PPC CEO Ketso Gordhan’s idea to raise funds to upskill workers, a symbolic gesture.
(WATCH VIDEO: S.Africa's Trevor Manuel reflects on two decades of WEF meetings)
Gordhan’s concept is to have business leaders combine a portion of their salary for further training however Manuel adds that the funds would amount to about one billion rand which is a third of the size of the national education budget.
Manuel went on to say that, “We [must] use the fruits of our democracy to raise the living standards of people in a demonstrable way, and yes along the route I think that if we use the Ketso Gordhan example as a benchmark it is a good inspiration for other people.”
Improving basic living standards is the purpose of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP), a document that the former minister was instrumental in putting together. The plan has been criticised for being just that - an idea with no action.
Manuel turns this criticism around, saying that, “The working mechanism for this must firstly be active citizenry. And active citizenry I think will be expressed in the desire to have better outcomes in terms of what happens to public service, I think that that is a very important staring point.”
Alluding to the recent disruption in parliament and ongoing protests around the country he acknowledged that active citizenry, “Is not always going to be people sitting in neat rows raising procedural points in meetings. Sometimes it’s a very loud voice, but active citizenry is a very important part of our democracy.”
The other two points that the former minister made, in terms of the NDP being a working mechanism was active leadership and an effective government.
Speaking about the future leadership of the NDP, Manuel was frank saying, “I can’t rule this thing from the grave.”