The need for transformation of outmoded deployment practices in the public administration must be taken seriously by 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). It is the ANC led alliance which has been in power at national level since 1994 that is responsible for this illegal practice. 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 the last report of the outgoing Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela: her “state of capture” report.
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 new 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 “national democratic revolution” 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.
“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 (at national level and virtually everywhere else except the Western Cape at provincial level and Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth at city level) 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 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. 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. Now he leads the Decolonization Foundation. The only public servant with original constitutionally conferred policy making powers, Shaun Abrahams, our National Director of Public Prosecutions, goes about his work on the basis that he is deployed by his party to implement its vision for the National Prosecuting Authority with scant regard, lip-service notwithstanding, for the independence he is constitutionally required to bring to bear by functioning “without fear, favour or prejudice”.
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. 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 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.
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.
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 all constitutional principles of a multi-party democracy under the rule of law.
Those driving the Save South Africa campaign and the SA First Trust 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.
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. 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. Gwede Mantashe will be remembered as a fine patriot, a superb administrator and a thoroughly innovative communist. Jacob Zuma will exit in disgrace for turning cadre deployment into a criminal patronage network and a vehicle for state capture.
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.
Paul Hoffman SC is a director of Accountability Now and the author of “Confronting the Corrupt”
8 November 2016.