Dealing with apartheid’s legacy: The Lee/Manuel correspondence

by The Editor

TrevorManuelFEATURE: Much has been made of Trevor Manuel’s recent comments on apartheid and whether or not it constitutes a valid excuse for poor service delivery. One area relevant to the debate, on which Manuel has been very outspoken in the past but did not address in his speech, is quotas in sport. In 2005 he set out his views in an exchange of letters with DA MP Donald Lee. I have set them all out in this article. Thus, one question perhaps worth putting to Manuel today, is whether or not he still thinks they are necessary.

Dealing with apartheid’s legacy: The Lee/Manuel correspondence

By: Gareth van Onselen

14 April 2013

Apartheid and its effect on South Africa today is currently the subject of much debate after Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, suggested blaming it was no longer a valid excuse for poor delivery. In turn, he was rebuked by President Zuma, who said its legacy is still a legitimate hindrance to service delivery. As it so happens, it is a false choice: some things are legitimately still retarded by apartheid’s effect, others are not (attitudes for one). Nevertheless, one area where Manuel has been outspoken in the past about defending current practice to overcome past injustice is quotas in sport.

In 2005, Manuel entered into an exchange with Donald Lee (DA Member of Parliament and the party’s sports spokesperson). It started when Manuel took exception to a Lee speech in the house, suggesting quotas were unnecessary and, rather, that the ANC government should focus on development at a foundational level, to overcome disparities in opportunity. In the subsequent exchange, Manuel argued quotas necessary, Lee that they were not (and that they undermined the dignity of professional sportspeople – black and white – regardless).

So, perhaps one question worth putting to Manuel – who once declared his support for New Zealand’s rugby team as he could not relate to the demographics of the South African national squad – is whether or not he still believes quotas are necessary. It would be an interesting question. Rugby and cricket, so far as our national sports administrators are concerned, have not yet sufficiently ‘transformed’ but the ANC government has had 20 years to introduce a foundational development system which might overcome this (the DA’s sports policy is an example example of how this might be done).

Does Manuel no longer believe apartheid a valid excuse for quotas in sport? Is he satisfied with the make-up of our national teams? Does he believe the ANC should abandon quotas as it has failed to make them work and resort, rather, to grass-roots development as the DA suggests? I wonder what his position is?

What follows below is the correspondence, in chronological order.

In each case I have uploaded a PDF copy of the original speech/letters, click on the description to read it. Here they are:

• 1. Speech: Donald Lee MP – State of the Nation Debate – 15 February 2005
• 2. Letter: Trevor Manuel MP – 16 February 2005
• 3. Letter: Donald Lee MP – 18 February 2005
• 4. Letter: Trevor Manuel MP – 10 March 2005
• 5. Letter: Donald Lee MP – 18 March 2005

Related Posts:
The selective moral outrage of Trevor Manuel
Absolute South Africa

  • Gareth van Onselen (@GvanOnselen) is the Editor of Inside Politics (@insidepols), Winner: Best Political Blog 2012.

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