SOUTH African planning commissioner Trevor Manuel does not "give a damn" about critics ridiculing his National Development Plan (NDP).
Manuel, a minister in the office of the Presidency, was speaking on the sidelines of a youth meeting in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
His chief of staff, Dumisa Jele, quickly stopped Manuel before he could continue his vitriolic attack.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has been very vocal about the plan, saying it is a "copy and paste" document from the DA.
Manuel lost his cool after being asked to comment on Numsa's stance. "If you want to sit back and criticise, you are not an active citizen and don't understand leadership. If we had that mentality, we would have never liberated this country," Manuel said.
The NDP was endorsed by the government and ANC leaders have championed it since its adoption at the Mangaung ANC conference.
"This is an open plan that South Africa should be proud of. People will say whatever they want to say. I don't give a damn," Manuel said.
Jele then ended the interview and escorted Manuel away.
Numsa has also described the NDP as a "disguised devil", a "sellout" and "neo-liberal policy".
Union president Cedric Gina said yesterday Manuel was only concerned about making the NDP his personal legacy. "We have a history with Trevor Manuel.
"We believe it was a wrong choice to appoint someone who doesn't believe the state should be involved in the economy."
Gina said Manuel was always bound to fail with his policy.
"We have real challenges, like unemployment and poverty."
The union leader said Manuel was suffering because he was no longer a member of the ANC's national executive. Manuel declined to stand for re-election to the ANC's top body.
Delivering his speech to about 250 people at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton, Manuel said the NDP was about active citizenry.
"The idea of the NDP is not mine, so please don't call it a Trevor Manuel plan or a plan for the government. It is the plan of South Africa.
"If you want to make it work, let us make it work," he said.
Manuel expressed concern about the poor state of education.
"Too many schools underperform. I understand life is a lottery."
This included in education, where if you were lucky to go to a good school with good teachers, you were guaranteed a good future.
"But if you go to a school where a teacher is not interested, you are doomed."
Asked if 19 years was enough time to alleviate poverty and inequality, Manuel said the key was creating employment. "That is the benchmark we have set ourselves and we cannot do it by a social grant. We will by creating skills and jobs."
He singled out former president Nelson Mandela as a perfect example whom every citizen should strive to follow. "Nelson Mandela's ideals must be alive and live among us."
Manuel encouraged the crowd to take ownership of their lives. "Young people must be involved in this process. There's so much you can do.
"Young people like yourselves should be role models in communities.
"We have to change life in the townships."
Manuel said people driving fancy cars with expensive rims were not role models.
"We need to replace them with good leaders – be the change that you want to see in the country," he said.
NMMU arts department dean Professor Velile Notshulwana encouraged the youth take ownership of the development plan.
"The youth need to be part of the NDP," Notshulwana said.
"It belongs to you because you are the future leaders."