Opinionista Leon Schreiber 22 April 2021

Zondo Commission has given us a golden opportunity to end cadre deployment

Cadre deployment by the ANC created the mechanism that looters like the Guptas used to further their corrupt aims. They didn’t simply waltz in and capture the state on their own. The Guptas exploited the fact that the state was already captured by the ANC through cadre deployment.

With every passing day of testimony delivered in front of the State Capture Commission, it becomes clearer that a historic window of opportunity is slowly opening for South Africa to right one of the greatest evils visited upon our country since the dawn of democracy. That evil is called cadre deployment. 

And for the first time in a quarter of a century, there are signs that we may just get a chance to make some of the fundamental changes we need to substitute the corrupt and rapidly failing state with a capable, non-partisan and professional civil service that serves our country rather than the ANC.

To be clear: the window of opportunity has only opened ever so slightly. But even through the small gap that has appeared, we can already see the light shining through. Over the coming months, the Zondo Commission, political parties and ordinary South Africans alike have an historic chance to force this window of opportunity all the way open so that we can drive through the change we desperately need to save our country.

Based on the testimony delivered in front of the Zondo Commission by the likes of Barbara Hogan and Gwede Mantashe, it is already clear that the DA’s decades-long campaign against cadre deployment is steadily being vindicated. As we have argued for many years, cadre deployment provides the ANC with the ability to unconstitutionally influence civil service appointments – which are supposed to be non-partisan and based on merit – to instead appoint people to positions of power on the basis of their loyalty to the party.

This created the mechanism that looters like the Guptas used to further their corrupt aims. They didn’t simply waltz in and capture the state on their own. The Guptas exploited the fact that the state was already captured by the ANC through cadre deployment.

But cadre deployment not only laid the foundation for corruption and State Capture. It also contributed to the collapse of service delivery, as highly skilled applicants who were not deemed “loyal enough” to the ANC by the deployment committee were locked out from opportunities to become public servants.

For proof, look no further than the DA’s recent revelations that 47% of municipal managers, and 35% of the most senior civil servants in national and provincial government departments, do not even meet the basic qualifications criteria for the positions they hold. 

This disastrous situation exists because the ANC uses cadre deployment to influence selection processes and bypass the relevant qualifications requirements in favour of “loyal comrades”.

Every South African should be grateful that the Zondo Commission is not shying away from investigating and exposing this reality. During Mantashe’s evidence last week, evidence leader advocate Alec Freund even forcefully made the point that “cadre deployment goes to the heart of the appointment process that is the subject of this commission”. 

It is this determination by the commission to expose the truth about cadre deployment that has opened a window of opportunity for us to outlaw this evil practice.

Despite cloaking his testimony in the language of denial, Mantashe inadvertently opened the window a little more when he cited his personal experience of how the cadre deployment committee interfered with the appointment process in his own department. 

Try as ANC leaders might to obfuscate and deny, the evidence emerging in front of the State Capture Commission is systematically exposing how their ideological project of cadre deployment caused the looting and decline that has brought South Africa to its knees. 

Mantashe recounted how he at one stage submitted to the party’s deployment committee a “long list” containing the names of five candidates for appointment to a position in the state. But the ANC disapproved of the gender composition of the list, with Mantashe then admitting that he took the committee’s response as a “directive” to revise the list.

Gwede Mantashe is likely so ideologically blinded by his desire for the ANC to control all levers of power in society that he utterly fails to realise that this one example already amounts to smoking gun evidence that the ANC uses cadre deployment to exercise unconstitutional influence over state appointments.

The next opportunity to expose cadre deployment will come when ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa testifies in front of the commission in a few weeks’ time. The DA has already written to the commission requesting it to subpoena full records of decisions taken by the ANC’s cadre deployment committee since Ramaphosa became its chairperson in 2013. 

The ANC previously refused to comply with a request submitted by the DA in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to obtain these records, confirming that they clearly have something to hide. The commission should now use its powers of subpoena to obtain the records and confront Ramaphosa with hard evidence of how the deployment committee he chaired facilitated the capture of the state by his party.

But South Africans do not have to wait for the Zondo Commission to complete its work. The DA has already gazetted our intention to introduce to Parliament the End Cadre Deployment Bill. This bill would make it illegal for a political office-holder to be appointed to any position in the civil service, and would make it a crime to appoint an official on the basis of political loyalty rather than demonstrated merit. It would also significantly expand the powers of the Public Service Commission to take remedial action against corruption and make it wholly independent of the executive.

Try as ANC leaders might to obfuscate and deny, the evidence emerging in front of the State Capture Commission is systematically exposing how their ideological project of cadre deployment caused the looting and decline that has brought South Africa to its knees. 

The DA stands ready with the solution in the form of the End Cadre Deployment Bill. Every citizen who wants a capable and corruption-free state, where civil servants are appointed on the basis of merit, should help us seize the moment by writing to [email protected] demanding that the bill be passed in the interests of our country.

Our country is in steep decline because cadre deployment puts the ANC’s greed before the needs of the country. 

Let’s now force open the window of opportunity to replace the evil of cadre deployment with professional appointments that unashamedly put the interests of South Africa first. DM

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All Comments 4

  • One small step for the ANC; one giant leap for the South African nation. Without accountability this country will continue on the road to nowhere. Constitutional representation; political sensitivity: individual thought: integrity and responsibility – these are the mainstays of a just society.

  • The essence of treason is to betray one’s country. What else is cadre deployment but treason? If a party is deemed more important than the country, it must be regarded as treason. Referring to public official qualifications, what is the minimum qualification for politicians?

  • Good article, as are many others. When are we going to see an opposition party that makes an impact in the public sphere? There has been so much to exploit, but no sustained offering of something to excite any response, or even to make an impact in the media. Provide us with something to work with.

  • How much does it cost to change the name of a city? All the Road signs, stationary, maps, atlases , telephone directories etc etc? Are we to assume that Port Elizabeth’s name change to#$%¥&¤☆● means that all E.Cape residents have houses, water, sanitation, no pit toilets at schools, electricity etc

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