Manuel will be chief of an entirely new agency
New South African President Jacob Zuma has named Pravin Gordhan as his new finance minister.
He will take over from Trevor Manuel, who has been appointed head of a new national planning body.
Mr Zuma has pledged to tackle the tough economic crisis, widespread poverty and rising crime, but insisted he would not hand out favours to his supporters.
He told a news conference he wanted an efficient, and caring administration with no laziness or incompetence.
As head of the new National Planning Commission, Mr Manuel will now be responsible for strategic planning and co-ordination among government departments.
"Comrade Trevor Manuel is being given a new structure, a very powerful structure, that is going to work out a national plan of government," Mr Zuma said.
He said he believed the markets would react positively to his new appointments, but added: "Who can predict the markets?"
Mr Zuma was elected president by parliament after the African National Congress won the general election last month, albeit with a slightly reduced majority.
Aaron Motsoaledi has been appointed to the key post of health minister, as the country tackles an HIV/Aids epidemic.
KEY CABINET POSTS
Deputy President: Kgalema Motlanthe
National Planning Commission: Trevor Manuel
Monitoring and Evaluation: Collins Chabane
Finance: Pravin Gordhan
Justice: Jeff Radebe
Defence: Lindiwe Sisulu
Health: Aaron Motsoaledi
International relations: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
Minister of Human Settlements: Tokyo Sexwale
Mr Gordhan previously worked in the tax department and has been praised for steadily raising income.
His appointments were being watched for signs that he would reward left wing groups which supported his election campaign - including the South African Communist Party.
Communist party leader Blade Nzimande was named minister of higher education and training, but analysts say it is not a post likely to give him much influence over economic policy.
Former President Kgalema Motlanthe was named deputy president.
Mr Zuma also announced the creation of a ministry for monitoring and evaluation to oversee the performance of government.
The BBC's Peter Biles says one of the biggest surprises is Dr Pieter Mulder, leader of the Afrikaner nationalist Freedom Front Plus party, who becomes deputy minister of Agriculture.
This will give white Afrikaners a voice in government, our correspondent says.
President Zuma has warned of hard economic times ahead
In other appointments, Barbara Hogan has been moved from health to public enterprises.
The health portfolio was given to provincial education minister from eastern South Africa, Aaron Motsoaledi.
Health experts had wanted Mr Zuma to retain Ms Hogan in the post. She took over from Manto Tshabalala-Msimang - a highly controversial minister criticised for her handling of South Africa's HIV/Aids epidemic - in October 2008.
At his inauguration on Saturday, Mr Zuma warned of hard economic times ahead.
"Jobs are being lost in every economy across the world," he said. "We will not be spared the negative impact, and are beginning to feel the pinch."
Mr Zuma is under pressure from his grass-roots supporters to increasing state spending on job creation, delivering services such as water, housing and electricity and improving the education system.
But investors would be alarmed if spending was increased too much.
They praised Mr Manuel's handling of the economy during his 13 years as finance minister, saying he had largely kept state expenditure within limits the country can afford.