Now South Africa's incoming President Jacob Zuma is moving Manuel to a new job, a cabinet-level post heading a National Planning Commission (NPC) that is key to Zuma's plans for overhauling much-criticised public services.
"The NPC will be responsible for strategic planning for the country to ensure one national plan to which all spheres of government would adhere," Zuma said in announcing the change.
"This would enable us to take a more comprehensive view of socio-economic development in the country."
Manuel's successor at the finance ministry, former tax boss Pravin Gordhan, is also a respected figure credited with improving tax collection during his time at the helm of the revenue service...
Appointed Nelson Mandela's finance minister without any formal economics training in 1996 at the age of 40, the trained civil engineer announced a budget surplus a decade later -- the first in 30 years.
Stringent fiscal policies under his watch are also credited with steering South Africa's banks safely through the global meltdown.
But while widely applauded, Manuel has not shied from unpopular choices and has frequently raised the ire of South Africa's powerful political left who criticise his tight controls over the budget and views on inflation targeting.
-Manuel handed S.Africa planning commission post
For Discussion: What do you think of the creation of this new planning commission in South Africa? In terms of PEFA ranking for medium term fiscal planning, the country gets a B grade- not a bad score?
Related; Development of central fiscal institutions;
Planning ministries are quite common in developing countries, but become less common as countries develop. Across the world, there has been a shift from traditional detailed planning, as reflected in 5-year plans and similar instruments, towards strategic coordination. This coordination is increasingly done by finance ministries or by prime ministers’ offices. This is often accompanied by a gradual integration of planning, strategy development and budgeting into a single, coordinated process, and a unified, strategic budget document. Planning ministries were often involved in project preparation, but this function is shifted to line ministries as their capacity develop. Macroeconomic forecasting is often transferred to the emerging macrofiscal and macroeconomic departments in the finance ministries, and statistics are increasingly produced by independent statistics agencies.