It is perfectly permissible for political parties to deploy their loyal cadres into political positions at national, provincial and municipal level. Any political post from president to local councillor is fair game. It is absolutely impermissible to use the public administration and the state-owned entities as the sites of cadre deployment of party loyalists.
The Constitution prescribes that good human resource management practices are required. One can hardly expect any accountability, transparency, responsiveness and objectivity in the delivery of services to the public if a host of deployed cadres are marching to the sound of a different drum in the course of their daily duties which include using resources efficiently, effectively and economically. The High Court has declared cadre deployment in the public administration illegal and unconstitutional. No appeal against this finding was ever made.
In other words, the ANC accepts that it was caught out trying to deploy one of its cadres as a municipal manager and it has been more circumspect and secretive about cadre deployment ever since Nelson Mandela Bay’s Vuyo Mlokoti’s case was decided. The practice continues unabated. Lynne Brown has publicly admitted that she submitted her short list of candidates for the Eskom board to Luthuli House. Needless to say, the comrades at Luthuli House have less than nothing to do with appointing staff at any state-owned enterprise or indeed in the public administration. The convoluted career of Brian Molefe is proof of how badly things can go wrong when cadres of political parties are required to comply with section 195 of the Constitution.
Some do, in rare cases, recognise that their duty to the Constitution trumps their loyalty to the ANC. Vusi Pikoli, fired as National Director of Public Prosecutions for his fealty to the rule of law, is one example. Another is Thuli Madonsela, whose impeccable Struggle credentials did not muzzle her from speaking truth to power in her capacity as Public Protector, thereby distinguishing her from her predecessors and successor. Both Pikoli and Madonsela have been ostracised and criticised by the ANC for simply doing their jobs properly.
Cadre deployment of a most nefarious kind is at the heart of the forms of State Capture that have been exposed for public scrutiny in the last report of Thuli Madonsela: her State of Capture report and in other reports, books and leaks of Gupta empire emails.
It has long been the policy of the ANC, as governing party, that safe party hands should be placed on all of what it calls “the levers of power” in society. This is with a view to establishing a hegemonic form of control of the state which is startlingly at odds with the notion of multiparty democracy under the rule of law which is at the heart of our new constitutional dispensation, ushered in when freedom finally dawned in SA. The “unity in diversity” contemplated in the Constitution and “hegemonic control” make strange bedfellows.
The latter is however one of the central tenets of the “national democratic revolution” which the ANC pursues relentlessly, if somewhat covertly. If the fallout generated by the State Capture report of the Public Protector brings an end to the inevitable abuses that follow from loyalty to party displacing loyalty to country, it will not be a moment too soon.
It is part of the work of the Zondo Commission into State Capture to expose the ill-effects of cadre deployment in the public administration and state-owned entities. This task is easily achieved by comparing the names of those exposed as participants in State Capture with the records of the relevant cadre deployment committees at Luthuli House. A recommendation to reverse all illegal deployments is also indicated.
“Cadre deployment” is one of the methods by which the ANC-led alliance seeks to achieve the goals of its “revolution”. This “revolution” is neither national, nor democratic (in the constitutional sense), nor a revolution, in that the alliance in government (at national level and virtually everywhere else except the Western Cape at provincial level and Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth at city level) should have no need to pursue a revolution when it is able, by its democratic majority and through peaceful non-revolutionary means, to bring about the changes in policy desired by the people who voted for it.
In South Africa’s post-1994 constitutional democracy the ANC-dominated tripartite alliance has consistently utilised the practice of cadre deployment in the public administration. At present the ANC, SACP and Cosatu co-operate closely, albeit somewhat fractiously, at all levels of government. Of course, cadre deployment can work at some levels, provided competent cadres are chosen. Therein lies the rub. As long as loyalty to political party trumps loyalty to the state, problems are inevitable, irrespective of the levels of competence that are achieved.
Many senior civil servants are overtly members of the ANC and help keep its structures in place by running branches and canvassing support for ANC policies in their spare time.
The only public servant with original constitutionally conferred policymaking powers, Shaun Abrahams, our current National Director of Public Prosecutions, goes about his work with scant regard, lip-service notwithstanding, for the independence he is constitutionally required to bring to bear by functioning “without fear, favour or prejudice”. Scurrying off to Luthuli House when summoned on short notice is symptomatic of his attitude, as is his protracted failure to take appropriate steps against the Guptas and others clearly involved in State Capture and corruption. The inference that he is himself captured is irresistible.
The blurring of the bright lines between party and state through public service “cadre deployment”, which the High Court has already struck down as illegal, has prejudicial consequences for the promotion of constitutionalism.
William Gumede, author and learned analyst and all things ANC, has pleaded publicly for the modernisation or adaptation of the ANC’s cadre deployment system, suggesting that our Planning Commission will fail if this is not done. He points out that the cadre deployment committees of the ANC which function at national, provincial and local levels are riven with factionalism.
This leads to less than satisfactory outcomes when the favourites of the dominant faction at any given time are not the best, or even appropriately, qualified candidates. The party structures elbow aside the legally created systems for the appointment of personnel in the public administration and the undermining of those who are supposed to be in authority is then likely to occur, and does.
The appointees regard themselves as the deployed cadres of the ANC rather than public servants and do not answer to anyone other than the alliance deployment committee that appointed them. Many mayors and even premiers have learned this, to their detriment.
The fact that cadre deployment continues after the High Court has characterised it as illegal and unconstitutional is indicative of how far the ANC has strayed from the rule of law and the constitutional requirements for good governance.
The public administration provided for in the Constitution should exist to render services to all people in a manner which is impartial, fair, equitable and without bias. [s 195]. It must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day [s 197].
Everybody, including directors-general, is entitled to fair labour practices [s 23]. Good human resource management and career development practices must be cultivated for public servants [s 195]. These requirements are the antithesis of the ANC’s cadre deployment model of governance which is itself inconsistent with binding constitutional principles.
It is up to the public of South Africa to claim its entitlement to accountable government in which constitutionally guaranteed human and other rights are upheld. A sound constitution is useless unless it is fully applied in the daily lives of all of the people and the institutions of state bound by it. Anyone with evidence of cadre deployment should make it available to the Zondo Commission.
The state can hardly respect, protect, promote and fulfil the guaranteed human rights of all, as it must do in terms of the Bill of Rights, if deployed cadres are instead pursuing an imagined or even real revolution.
At the root of many of the problems facing our country at present is a lack of appreciation of the difference between party and state. Indeed, State Capture is, in a sense, the collapsing of the state into the party. This process conflicts with all constitutional principles of a multiparty democracy under the rule of law.
Those driving the Save South Africa campaign and the SA First Trust need to renounce the revolution for its inconsistency with the Constitution. They need to point out that the perpetuation of the “cadre deployment” practices after they have been declared illegal in court is intolerable. If they do not, their role will sadly be reduced to that of yet another faction within the ANC.
The constitutionally compliant exercise of powers and duties of the public administration ought to be aimed at improving the lot of all people. Impartial public servants should be a given, not an exception. “Cadre deployment” should be discontinued forthwith and voluntarily rather than by way of further litigation or as a result of the Zondo Commission delving into its intricacies.
All patriotic South Africans need to put accountability and responsiveness to the needs of all people first in the debates on “state capture”, our “governance model” and on the manner in which personnel are deployed at all levels of the public administration. If we have all due respect for the constitutional framework outlined above, the outcome of the debate could promote effective and efficient service delivery by the public administration.
The carbuncle that is called “cadre deployment” will be excised and our land will flourish with good cadres taking their rightful place alongside colleagues in the political sphere while in the public administration, with all staff appointed on merit and not on political allegiance, constitutionally compliant public servants will serve the public (not the party) in a manner which is responsive to the needs of the people and is truly accountable. DM
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