South Africa


Cadre deployment unconstitutional and illegal – Commission’s bombshell finding on ANC’s key policy

Cadre deployment unconstitutional and illegal – Commission’s bombshell finding on ANC’s key policy
From left: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. (Photo: Gallo Images / Fani Mahuntsi)

The State Capture Commission report has found that the ANC’s deployment policy is unconstitutional and illegal. Commission chairperson, now Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo stated in Part 6 of the report that there is also no reason for the ANC’s deployment committee to exist. 

The ANC wields significant power through deployment and the finding is likely to give the party one of the biggest headaches. The six-volume State Capture report places the party at the heart of the descent into grand corruption in the democratic era. 

Zondo also found that President Cyril Ramaphosa had not been honest when he told the commission that the deployment committee did not make recommendations on judicial appointments.

Minutes subpoenaed by the commission found that the uber-powerful committee had in fact made recommendations to fill judicial vacancies – the minutes showed the party had made recommendations and preferences on judges. The Zondo report has revealed that the deployment committee has a wide-ranging power and arrogates to itself the decisions to “recommend” members of the:

  • Cabinet
  • Entire civil service from director upwards
  • Premiers and provincial administrations
  • Legislatures
  • Local government
  • Parastatals
  • Educational institutions
  • Independent statutory committees, agencies, boards and institutes
  • Ambassadorial appointments
  • International organisations and institutions

Until the State Capture Commission hearings, the deployment committee had operated in secret (it didn’t even keep minutes until recently, the commission found), so the full remit of its ability to place candidates was not known. Judge Zondo also confirmed a link between the committee and State Capture in his report. 

The commission found that: “…the Constitution envisages a public administration that maintains a high standard of professional ethics: that is efficient, economic and effective in its use of resources and that is impartial, fair, equitable and without bias”, and that the governing party’s deployment policy was counter to all four values that guided the “political-administrative interface”. 

The term “political-administrative interface” is used to describe how to create independence between party and state; and between partisanship and an independent bureaucracy. The National Development Plan made a number of far-reaching recommendations to bolster the independence of the civil service but these have never been properly implemented. The report found:  

“The Constitution’s requirement of a non-partisan public service cuts both ways, and the requirement of a loyal execution calls for personnel who, without blind loyalty to any party, are committed to faithfully implementing lawful government policies with which they may personally disagree.  Active attention to achieving this by political parties – not least by a majority party democratically elected to govern – may not be considered objectionable in principle. 

“The problem obviously is to reconcile this in practice with the achievement of a non-partisan public service loyally executing only lawful government policies and nothing more. It clearly could not be justified for a party to use its internal ‘recommendation’ of a candidate for office as a means of placing political pressure on and distorting the objective statutory process of selection and appointment to that office in the state.” 

Zondo also said an Eastern Cape High Court judgment had found in a case involving the Amathole District Municipality, “Despite political preference for another candidate, the municipality was obliged to appoint the best candidate.”   

The Zondo report found that the ANC cadre deployment policy violates five different subsections of the Constitution and that it also contravenes the Public Service Act. 

The legislation says: 

“No appointment, promotion and transfer may be made or effected or decided upon [outside the prescriptions of the legislation] – and those prescripts are equality and other democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution”. 

Those values are equality in the treatment of candidates, transparency, accountability and fairness. The report finds:

“There is no mention of membership of a political party including the ANC or current ruling party, nor is there mention of a recommendation made by the deployment committee of the ANC or any political party.” 

Fit for purpose?

When Ramaphosa appeared before the commission, he defended the party’s right to deploy cadres and said that in a party political-based electoral system, it was quite normal practice. He said the party only wanted to make sure that “fit for purpose” candidates were put into positions and said that some positions were “political” where the party wanted to advance its own mandate including ensuring gender and demographic balance and the “developmental agenda”. Both Ramaphosa and the party chairperson Gwede Mantashe told the commission that the committee had no power to decide on appointments and that it did not issue instructions. 

Zondo drove a truck through this. 

“However, the above evidence is not borne out in other evidence before the commission,” he said. “The committee may have more power in reality than it does on paper. The chairperson noted that appointing authorities, who are themselves ANC members and therefore bound to the decisions of the party, such as ministers, might feel pressured to appoint the committee’s chosen candidate, and that this would confer said candidate with an unfair advantage.” 

Former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan told the commission that, in reality, the deployment committee made decisions, not recommendations. She had failed to get “fit for purpose” candidates to lead Transnet appointed on several occasions.    

“I have known and I have seen ministers coming out of that type of process just pulling the sweat off their foreheads because it means they have achieved something. It is not an easy process,” the president told the commission. Ramaphosa was the chairperson of the committee all the way through, at the height of State Capture, but he said former president Jacob Zuma often made appointments without telling the deployment committee.

“It therefore appears that the committee does not always merely make recommendations but in fact often instructs appointing authorities on who to appoint,” found Zondo. “As I put to President Ramaphosa, the party is where the real decisions are taken. President Ramaphosa conceded that ‘the party is where the power resides’.” 

Deployment and State Capture

The judge also established a link between ANC deployment and State Capture. He said that Zuma had informed the committee that he intended to fire former finance minister Pravin Gordhan and replace him with loyalist Brian Molefe. He fired Gordhan but was unable to get the Molefe appointment through because of the former Eskom and Transnet boss’s relationship with the Guptas. 

“It must be noted that President Ramaphosa was the chairperson of the deployment committee for a period of five years, between December 2012 and December 2017,  and that many of these appointments [and indeed the excesses of State Capture] occurred during this period. Notably this is also the period for which the party could produce no minutes or records. It is not sufficient for President Ramaphosa to focus on the future of the party and his envisaged renewal process. Responsibility ought also to be taken for the events of the previous ‘era’.  He did so partially and only in the most general terms,” said Zondo. 

The report notes that Ramaphosa conceded a “massive system failure” yet “repeatedly stressed the importance of cadre deployment, and said that the deployment committee process is ‘vigorous’ and adds an extra level of scrutiny”.

“The ANC has acknowledged that it has been, for an extended period of time, beset by problems including patronage, factionalism and corruption.  The ability to position individuals in strategic positions in the state is a substantially powerful one. It would be naïve to think that these systemic problems would not spill over into the deployment process,” the report finds.  

The DA is taking the ANC cadre deployment policy to court and says the Zondo report confirms many of the risks it identified. DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    The end of the ANC is nigh! Time for a true democratic liberal party.

  • Stephen T says:

    Is anybody really surprised by this? It’s just the ANC being the ANC.

  • Nicholas De Villiers says:

    This must roil the ANC. Another ANC President found to have lied under oath and their cornerstone policy found to be unconstitutional and illegal.

  • Joe Irwin says:

    The ANC make the infamous mafia look like amateurs. To think that this organisation with unlimited power as the governing party can even show their faces in parliament is laughable. They need to be replaced now, not on 2024.

  • Francois Myburgh says:

    BRAVO Zondo!!

  • Colin Jennings says:

    As written, the truth is objective and substantial, this is a, ” ground-breaking”, report. My immediate feeling is that the author of the report (Judge Zendo) is a very brave person. Ferial Haffajee, has given the Nation an insight into that which many possibly knew but were too scared to declare publicly and this too must be saluted.

    I fear, nonetheless, there will be denials, bad words of response and will not change what could become the grandiose, “new dawn”, for which we all had hoped.

  • Bryan Macpherson says:

    Has the ANC’s deployment committee tried to undermine the Constitution? Perhaps it is time to look at prosecuting the members of that committee for sedition. That should focus their minds! While that is going on, perhaps all their “recommended” appointments should be annulled and the corrupt, dishonest and incompetent cadres turfed out.

  • Roy Haines says:

    It would seem that CR has really fallen on his proverbial sword!

  • Lothar Böttcher says:

    After almost thirty years everyone wants to be the Don in the Mafia that is the ANC…
    “Comrades!’ he cried. ‘You do not imagine, I hope, that we pigs are doing this in a spirit of selfishness and privilege? Many of us actually dislike milk and apples. I dislike them myself. Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples.”
    ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    The ANC are just like the Nats.The cadre Deployment committee like The Broeder bond thinks it’s doing us a favour appointing the politically malleable to key positions. They just don’t trust anyone else. Their world is divided into us and them. That’s why the rainbow nation is anathema to them.

    • Jacques Wessels says:

      I could not agree more no difference between ANC & Apartheid structures. The difference will only come if voters stop taking ANY political party & their associated administration words, they have one objective self & party enrichment watch them closely & wip them at the poles

  • Russ H says:

    Disgusted bunch. We need to get a proper government in place !!

  • Johan Buys says:

    one side comment : all the parties including the DA stuff the administrations where they have the say with party annointed cadres. I am not sure how one gets to the level of separation of party and state administration that places like Sweden and Denmark have achieved. A start would be that all public positions have very strict technocrat rules. You can’t be a disbarred lawyer and be made the head of engineering services of a metro for example – which I endured.

  • Ann Bown says:

    The Zondo Report : Cadre Deployment or jobs for pals or the old boy network will continue because that’s how politics work! It’s The Putin Playbook, the 1922 Committee, the Infinitate…so it blithely goes – there’s doubt the Democratic Alliance will be and is any different. Don’t hold your breath for a New Dawn!

  • Johann Olivier says:

    When CR was appointed, I felt a frisson of real concern. Everyone was so happy & relieved. Yet I thought about a simple fact: trade union leader to billionaire, in a relative blink of an eye. Then I read this: **“It must be noted that President Ramaphosa was the chairperson of the deployment committee for a period of five years, between December 2012 and December 2017, and that many of these appointments [and indeed the excesses of State Capture] occurred during this period. Notably this is also the period for which the party could produce no minutes or records. It is not sufficient for President Ramaphosa to focus on the future of the party and his envisaged renewal process. Responsibility ought also to be taken for the events of the previous ‘era’. He did so partially and only in the most general terms,” said Zondo.**
    I am completely unsurprised. Thank you for your courage, Chairman Zondo.

  • Amanda Landman says:

    Then, by full implication and implementation, Rhamaphosa did set the wheels in motion for Zuma’s plans for state capture…in Afrikaans, we have a saying : die deler is so goed as die steler!

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options