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Cadre deployment is counterproductive and illegal in the public administration and SOEs.

Opinionista • Paul Hoffman • 19 July 2020

It is against the law to use a system of political party cadre deployment in the public administration and in our state-owned enterprises for the purpose of appointing officials.

Chapter 10 of the Constitution regulates the basic values and principles governing public administration in SA. The principles apply to administration in every sphere of government, to organs of state and to public enterprises. Parliament is required to pass national legislation that “must ensure the promotion of the values and principles” set out in Section 195(1) of the Constitution. That section requires that services be provided impartially, fairly, equitably and without bias in our development-oriented public administration and state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Any lingering doubt is dispelled by the explicit reference to how to go about filling the ranks: 

“Good human-resource management and career-development practices, to maximise human potential, must be cultivated.”

The well-known decision of the High Court in Mlokoti v Amathole District Municipality and others is instructive. The position of municipal manager was vacant; Mlokoti was the best candidate but the ANC’s relevant cadre deployment committee did not want a PAC member in the position and insisted on a cadre deployment. Mlokoti took the decision on judicial review and it was reversed by the court by nullifying the cadre deployment and replacing the cadre with Mlokoti.

All of the aforegoing facts, law and precedent appear to have passed Kgotso Maja by in his law and MBA studies. He has penned a spirited defence of cadre deployment, which Daily Maverick has published, in the same week as Colin Coleman appealed to the ANC to shed its outdated ideology. Coleman did so while suggesting a 10-point plan to save the SA economy in a lecture to UCT. Coleman does not endorse cadre deployment in any way, shape or form. On the contrary, Coleman called for war on State Capture. Every objective observer knows that attempts at State Capture have been the work of deployed cadres and their cronies in business those who propel what Coleman referred to as “the illegal economy”.

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Maja would do well to study the text of Coleman’s speech to UCT and to encourage his colleagues in the ANC to adopt the ideas put forward by Coleman. They amount to an encouraging blueprint for saving the state from failure.

At the core of the misguidedness of Maja’s views is that he draws no bright line between party and state. His underlying false premise is that only the ANC has the means to drive a public administration that is development-oriented. It does so by pursuing its National Democratic Revolution (NDR), an idea which Lenin developed to counter what he called “colonialism of a special kind” in SA.

The NDR is aimed at securing hegemonic control of all the levers of power in society. (Society mind you, not just government and the public administration) This is the developmental agenda of the ANC. It is completely at odds with the Constitution which is our supreme law. The notion of multi-party democracy under the rule of law is entrenched in Section 1 of the Constitution. Hegemony of the ANC is the antithesis of both concepts.

The success of the revolution would see (assuming that the “class suicide” currently contemplated by quasi prime minister Nkosasana Dlamini Zuma is unnecessary) loyal cadres of the revolution with their hands on all the levers of power in society and the collapsing of the state into the party. Where this idea has been tried in the world it has failed miserably. The Soviet Union abandoned it and dissolved itself in the previous century; Zimbabwe, Venezuela and North Korea are the last outposts of a thoroughly outdated ideology – one which Colin Coleman has resoundingly recommended be jettisoned by the ANC.

There can be no cavilling at the deployment of cadres in political office. That is done by all political parties. The freedom of association guaranteed to all and the right to organise political parties also entrenched in the Bill of Rights allow it.

In contradistinction, the need for the public administration to be impartial, fair and equitable in the provision of services without bias (as required by the Constitution) makes cadre deployment of civil servants a no-no.

The loyalty of professional, ethical and accountable public servants is to their country and Constitution. They are required to execute the lawful policies of the government of the day. Any government can and should be served by professional and ethical public servants. A striving for hegemony is incompatible with multi-partyism under the rule of law.

Fund-raising for the ANC is an unorthodox business that the cadres are required to carry on. Accounts of bribes in the arms deals, the Hitachi Power Africa “partnership” the State Capture frolics, the Cele Police HQ leases are all the work of those deployed cadres of the ANC who see nothing wrong in enriching their political party in ways that no other party would dare attempt.

Any member of the public administration appointed as a consequence of the activities of the shadowy Luthuli House cadre deployment committees, which operate at national, provincial and local levels, is automatically in a conflict of interest bind. Does the supremacy of the Constitution trump the requirements of loyalty to the NDR? Does one serve the NDR or the public? Is it career-limiting to incur the ire of the members of the cadre deployment committee that appointed one?

A public administration that cleaves to the values of the Constitution is not faced with these questions. A high standard of professional ethics demands objectivity, not revolutionary zeal. The promotion of efficient, economic and effective use of resources is impossible if cadres serve the revolution instead of the people. Accountability of the cadres is to the deployment committee when cadre deployment is countenanced. Accountability is to the Constitution when the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution are used to inform the required “good human resource management practices” that should guide the appointment of civil servants and those working in SOEs.

Deployed cadres in the public administration or in the SOEs are constantly torn between what the law requires them to do and what the deployment committee wants in the way of hegemonic control of all levers of power.

They are not the same; the trajectory of the revolution is not one contemplated by the rule of law. The rule of law is regarded as supreme in Section 1 of the Constitution. The separation of powers between organs of state, the checks and balances on the accountable exercise of power, the independence of the judiciary and Chapter 9 Institutes (those state institutions supporting constitutional democracy) as well as the independence of the National Prosecuting Authority are all the enemies of the revolution.

The ANC works on the basis that the first duty of its cadres is to the ANC. The Constitution works (or is supposed to work) on the basis that the rule of law and the Constitution are supreme.

In practice, this means that the cadres see nothing wrong in fat salaries and fancy cars for cadres while infrastructure is left to rot in most municipalities and the duty of the state to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the human rights of all who live in SA is honoured in the breach. Poverty and hunger stalk the land, joblessness is higher than ever, inequality abounds and the cadres sail on disengaged from anything other than their revolutionary zeal.

Fund-raising for the ANC is an unorthodox business that the cadres are required to carry on. Accounts of bribes in the arms deals, the Hitachi Power Africa “partnership” the State Capture frolics, the Cele Police HQ leases are all the work of those deployed cadres of the ANC who see nothing wrong in enriching their political party in ways that no other party would dare attempt.

Until that bright line between party and state is drawn and respected by the ANC and unless it abandons its NDR, as suggested by Colin Coleman, the type of service delivery contemplated by the Constitution and the realisation of human rights will remain bogged down in illegal, unconstitutional, counter-productive and unworkable cadre deployments in the public administration and the SOEs.

Honest cadres will reveal that their first loyalty is to the revolution, not the Constitution or the state. Therein lies the rub. The integrity required by Maja is unachievable while this conflict of loyalties continues. Drawing the entire civil service from the membership of one political party with less than a million members is no way to serve the interests of the country. Nor is it a way to implement the Constitution. DM

Paul Hoffman is a director of Accountability Now.

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