Trevor Manuel, South African Minister in the Presidency, delivered the first ‘Masterclass’ of the 2012 Master of Public Policy on Friday 21 September with an illuminating discussion with Professor Woods, Dean of the School.

A passionate anti-apartheid campaigner who spent time in detention and house arrest, Mr Manuel has served as a senior minister in the South African government for the past 18 years. He is one of the School’s ‘distinguished practitioners’, selected from around the world for their vision and impact who will impart invaluable experience of policy implementation and advice in MPP Masterclasses in the School.

Mr Manuel described his career and the lessons he has learned with honesty and clarity. He discussed with Professor Woods the difficult decisions to be made in reconstructing a country and economy torn apart by Apartheid and sanctions, from reconciliatory amnesties to austerity measures during economically difficult times.  For MPP student Hugo Batten, ‘it was inspiring to hear Minister Manuel's thoughts on leadership under extreme adversity.  He said there are no easy answers but the leaders of the anti-apartheid had to make enormous personal sacrifices and risk alienating supporters to hold a principled line’. 

Mr Manuel spoke about how countries facing similar challenges to South Africa could learn from the country’s experiences of crisis management and policy implementation.  He also generously offered his advice and ongoing support to MPP students, saying he was ‘humbled’ to be a distinguished practitioner at the School. He urged the group to let any fear of failure be an incentive to ‘work incredibly hard’, both during the MPP course and in their professional careers.

Trevor Manuel is currently Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission, South Africa.