President Cyril Ramaphosa has let it be known in his weekly newsletter that:
“We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage. There should be consequences for all those in the public service who do not do their work.”
It appears the Constitution was, and is, routinely ignored and flouted by the governing alliance’s delinquents to effect the deployment of loyal “cadres” in the public administration and the state-owned enterprises (SOEs). That loyalty, which is to the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and not to the Constitution, was easily transmogrified into the state capture project’s “parallel processes” run by the ANC’s Jacob Zuma faction from Luthuli House with ample support from the executive and legislature.
The question now is whether the president is signalling the end of these forms of cadre deployment. Probably not, but he should be.
The Constitution requires the cultivation of good human resource management practices in the public administration and SOEs. It also requires cabinet members not to act in any way that is inconsistent with their office or exposes themselves to the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and their private interests. Nor may they improperly benefit any other person.
Their oaths of office require them to uphold the Constitution, not undermine it with the deployment of unsuitable and under-qualified cadres.
Cadre deployment has been declared illegal in the High Court. There was no appeal against this, rightly so. The aims of the national democratic revolution are radically at odds with the requirements of the Constitution. The revolution may be regarded as a “private interest” of those who subscribe to its eternally unsatisfied longing for hegemonic control of all the levers of power in society.
It is no wonder that the Zuma state capture project nearly succeeded and may yet do so. President Cyril Ramaphosa is also a “revolutionary”, but he has identified the need to put a stop to the parachuting practices in the public administration and the state owned enterprises.
The need for transformation of outmoded deployment practices in the public administration must be taken seriously by the ANC deployment committees (chaired by the deputy president) who are the authors of the pervasiveness of cadre deployment in state owned enterprises (think Brian Molefe at Eskom) and the public administration (think Bheki Cele and Riah Phiyega in the police, Mo Shaik and Menzi Simelane in human settlements and previously in the SSA and NPA respectively). It is the ANC led alliance which has been in power at national level since 1994 that is responsible for these illegal practices. By all means deploy cadres in politically elected office, but do not break the law by deploying cadres in the public administration and in state owned enterprises.
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 evidence before the Zondo Commission and in the last report of the outgoing Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela: her “state of capture” report. The problem is that cadres are meant to serve the aims of the NDR, and not those of the public as required by the Constitution. The implementation of the Constitution is what the public is entitled to expect of the state, not the pursuit of the revolutionary agenda of the NDR.
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 multi-party democracy under the rule of law, which is at the heart of our current 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 NDR which the ANC pursues relentlessly. 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. The ANC has resorted to the stratagem of saying that its cadre deployment committees do no more than make recommendations to the state and the SOEs. This is an attempt to avoid the consequences of the essential illegality of the practice.
“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 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 order to create hegemony by ending multi-party democracy under the rule of law, with the concomitant separation of powers and independent institutions functioning openly, accountably and responsively, the ANC will have to muster a 75% majority in parliament to do so legally, or it will have to foment a revolutionary change that will bring down the wrath of the UN, the AU and the people of SA on it.
In South Africa’s post 1994 constitutional democracy the ANC dominated tripartite alliance has consistently utilized 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 and recognise the supremacy of the Constitution. Therein lies the rub. As long as loyalty to party trumps loyalty to the state, problems are inevitable.
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. One former director general, Jimmy Manyi, even simultaneously headed a lobby group, without due regard for the conflict of interests this involves.
The only public servant with original constitutionally conferred policy making powers, our National Director of Public Prosecutions, ought to work independently without fear, favour or prejudice. Past NDPPs went about their work on the basis that they were deployed by the ANC, not the state, to implement its vision for the National Prosecuting Authority with scant regard, lip-service notwithstanding, for the independence they are constitutionally required to bring to bear by functioning “without fear, favour or prejudice”. Vusi Pikoli was suspended during the Mbeki era and fired when Motlanthe was briefly president for acting independently in his decision making around the prosecution of Jackie Selebi and Jacob Zuma. To her credit, Shamila Batoyi insisted on her institutional independence before she accepted the NDPP position she now holds.
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. Professor William Gumede, author and learned analyst and all things ANC, has pleaded publicly for the modernization or adaptation of the ANC’s cadre deployment system, suggesting that our Planning Commission and National Development Plan 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 characterized 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 and the values set out in Chapter One of the Constitution itself.
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. 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 imaginary revolution without regard to their constitutional responsibility to perform their functions in government (not revolution) diligently and without delay.
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 most constitutional principles of a multi-party democracy under the rule of law.
Those driving the various campaigns for reform in SA 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 led alliance. The ANC itself should abandon the NDR.
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.
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 and even in the currrent debate over what the president really meant when he mentioned ending the “parachuting in” phenomenon 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 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. Service delivery will be aimed at implementing the Constitution and the NDP, not the illegal hegemony that the revolutionaries crave. Public servants will take the pledge and mean it.
Service delivery will unfold along the lines of the Constitution, not the NDR, as was suggested to an ad hoc committee of parliament that inquired fruitlessly into service delivery failures.
Those who are deluded into thinking that there is nothing wrong with cadre deployment aimed at implementing the NDR should have regard to the supremacy of the Constitution and to the state of our municipalities in which the cadres have looked after the revolution at the expense of the SA public by given their loyalty and energy over to the NDR instead of to respecting, protecting, promoting and fulfilling the rights of all as is required by the Bill of Rights.
Paul Hoffman is a director of Accountability Now.
23 January 2020.