This article is inspired by the need to dispense with pseudo-problems in our politics. These may be small victories of negation, but they do help to bring the real problems into the foreground.
The charges against cadre deployment constitute a pseudo-problem that distracts from real problems — it is a red herring.
Cadre deployment is when the supporters of a governing political party are employed in government. It is that simple to define and just as easy to measure and assess.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Cadre deployment sends us headlong towards kakistocracy
The cadre deployment issue that has been raised so vociferously by the DA and other opposition parties is a red herring for the simple reason that all political parties everywhere in the world deploy their supporters to serve in government in one way or another, and in both political and administrative roles.
The staunchest party supporters, those with membership cards, are the main source of party deployees. Cadre deployment, in principle, is par for the course in all multi-party democracies.
For example, John Steenhuisen is a cadre of the DA who has been deployed to the political role of DA party leader, just as Cyril Ramaphosa has been deployed by the ANC to serve in the political role of President of the Republic of South Africa.
In addition to political deployments, the ANC no doubt also deploys its members in the public administration where it governs — as does the DA and EFF where they govern.
The Constitution deals with this matter. The most direct references are found in sections 197(1) and (3) of the Constitution:
“197(1): The public service must loyally execute the lawful policies of the government of the day.
“197(3): No employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular political party or cause.”
My emphasis on the word “only” in 197(3) above indicates how important this word is to the meaning of this stipulation. It means that party membership may be considered but that it should not be the only criterion for employment (or rejection from employment) in the public service.
Nowhere does the Constitution render cadre deployment illegal in principle. How could it?
However, this does not mean that anything goes in the practice of cadre deployment. If the only criterion for deployment is party support, then such a deployment is unconstitutional.
Hence the need for formal party processes to consider how this should happen in a way that helps parties to pursue their agenda. That is what political parties do.
The ANC, no doubt, has a range of internal party-political structures and processes that influence the policy and action of the government of South Africa at every level. Why should the deployment of its supporters to government be treated any differently from other political matters?
Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC must hand over cadre deployment records after losing court appeal
It would be preposterous to claim that the DA, EFF and other parties do not also have internal processes for this purpose. And it would be worrying if they only used informal processes to deploy their cadres.
The easy way to dispense with this particular red herring is to run a simple test. Take all the governing parties audited and true membership lists and run these against the list of all public sector employees.
The intersection of the two lists constitutes cadre deployment.
This analysis could easily be done by the relevant Chapter 9 institutions to avoid a “show me yours and I’ll show you mine” stand-off between the ANC and the DA.
The data is at hand. And it is worth using in the hunt for political red herrings. DM