Our historic opportunity to dismantle cadre deployment

Things are falling apart in South Africa because twenty five years ago, a very damaging piece of code got into the ANC’s operating system, inevitably infecting and destroying almost every institution of state.

Ultimately fatal

The Zondo reports and the ANC deployment committee minutes have confirmed what the DA has been saying for decades. That by erasing the separation between party and state, the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment is the foundation of state capture, grand corruption, institutional breakdown, and service delivery collapse.

The policy says that public sector appointments should be based on loyalty to the party rather than on ability to deliver to the public. This has undermined the capacity of state institutions to deliver on their mandate. By enabling the ANC to control most levers of power, it has also undermined the principle of separation of powers, the essential prerequisite for a functional democracy.

Formally adopted by the ANC at their 1997 Mafikeng conference, cadre deployment tied the party into an ultimately fatal parasitic relationship with the South African state.

Full effects

With cadre deployment in its endgame, its full effects are now bombarding South Africa from every angle, creating a perfect storm of human suffering.

It is the root cause of SAPS’s inability to enforce law and order, which has led to 6083 murders in the first three months of this year, 306 of children under the age of 17, an increase of 22% in the murder rate compared with the same period last year.

It is the root cause of municipal collapse, as reported by Ratings Afrika, this week. According to its Municipal Financial Sustainability Index, most municipalities in South Africa are on the verge of collapse financially – except in the DA-run Western Cape.

It is the root cause of state capture and the grand corruption it enabled that saw R1.5 trillion stolen from the public purse.

The root cause of the load-shedding and soaring electricity prices and collapsed rail system that are crippling our economy.

The root cause of the factionalism, the fierce internal competition for access to state resources, that saw ANC politics spill onto the streets of KZN in July last year, destroying hundreds of lives, thousands of jobs, and billions of rands of property.

And of our broken education system that has so stunted the life prospects of millions of South African children, with six out of nine provincial departments of education having been captured by SADTU, the ANC-affiliated teacher’s union.

To save South Africa we need to jettison the policy or the parasite, preferably both.

Evidence

With all the evidence that has been exposed by the Zondo Commission and the DA, we now have a historic opportunity to fundamentally uproot it.

Thanks to sustained DA pressure, the minutes since 2018 of the ANC’s Deployment Committee were made public, giving South Africans insight into the mechanism by which cadre deployment destroys the state.

The DA is still in court to obtain the minutes from 2013 to 2018, when then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was chairperson of the Deployment Committee, the period when the worst state capture appointments were made – such as of Brian Molefe to head up Eskom and Tom Moyane SARS.

But the good news is that there is now widespread agreement in the media and in civil society at large that cadre deployment is the root of the problem and needs to go.

The DA is taking two major action steps this week that could bring it to a decisive end.

End Cadre Deployment Bill

Today, Leon Schreiber is presenting the DA’s End Cadre Deployment Bill to parliament’s committee on public service and administration. The bill would: make it illegal for politicians to work in the civil service; enhance the independence and powers of the Public Service Commission; and make it a crime for anyone to appoint a public servant on the basis of political considerations other than merit. It would also give the PSC power to enforce merit-based appointments and take remedial action against anyone not following its directives. So it is a very comprehensive reform bill.

Despite President Ramaphosa’s repeated defense of cadre deployment and his request to DC Justice Zondo not to rule that it be scrapped, the first Zondo report makes it clear that an independent, empowered PSC is necessary, concluding:

  • 418. When regard is had to all of the above, it is quite clear that the appointment of members of Boards of Directors of SOEs as well as senior executives such as CEOs and CFOs can no longer be left solely in the hands of politicians because in the main they have failed dismally to give these SOEs members of Boards and CEOs and CFOs who have integrity and who have what it would take to lead these institutions successfully. They are all going down one by one and, quite often, they depend on bail outs.
  • 419. It is therefore necessary that a body be established which will be tasked with the identification, recruitment and selection of the right kind of people who will be considered for appointment as members of Boards of SOEs and those who will be appointed as CEOs and CFOs at these SOEs.

Coming soon

On Friday, the DA will announce another unprecedented and historic intervention to force the government and the ANC to scrap cadre deployment and ensure it never sneaks in again going forward.

The DA will continue to lead the fight against cadre deployment and for a capable, honest state able to deliver on its constitutional mandate, with institutions that check and balance power, and thereby prevent the abuse of political power that has infiltrated our body politic, from the President down.