How the ANC politicised the state

When it was done, and the names of the individuals responsible

JOHANNESBURG - Below is a timeline - drawn up in late 1999 - documenting how the African National Congress set about capturing the ‘levers of state power' between 1996 and 1999. It sets out the chronology of how this was done, and names the individuals involved.

Extracts from this document were published in the Mail & Guardian on November 5th 1999. In his introduction the then political editor of the newspaper, Howard Barrell, wrote:

"The Democratic Party has produced research which, it says, shows how the African National Congress is subjugating the civil service to the ruling party. The official opposition says the pattern identified by its parliamentary researcher, James Myburgh, could have grave consequences for constitutional government in South Africa. The DP research traces a time line which relates ANC statements on the need to have ruling party members at the top of state-controlled bodies to the subsequent appointment of leading ANC members to these institutions.

The DP charges that, combined with the ANC's organising principle of ‘democratic centralism', - which obliges members to observe strict hierarchical discipline in carrying out party decisions - this is fostering party supremacy over state controlled bodies."

The article quoted DP leader Tony Leon as saying: "The ANC will not accept that there is such a thing as a neutral civil service. They are making political appointments at the top of the civil service the norm, not the exception. In the process, they are collapsing the wall between party and state. They have decided to go for hegemony and believe that this aim should trump all other considerations."

What was not evident then was the degree to which the 'levers of state power' would, following their capture, be used against internal party rivals of Thabo Mbeki. And the way in which the fear, distrust and hatred this generated would tear the ruling party apart.
















The Sunday Telegraph reports on rumours that earlier in the year the ANC's NWC has decided there too many of its talented cadres were in Parliament.





5 April

ANC MP Saki Macozoma is appointed deputy MD of Transnet. He is later made managing director.






The ANC has a "winter school" for senior political leadership. Joel Netshitenzhe presents a paper on The National Democratic Revolution: Is it Still on Track?






The ANC publishes its first edition of Umrabulo (Fourth Quarter 1996). In the edition is Netshitenzhe's document on the NDR.

The document identify six centres of power in society including the media and the state machinery. It suggest "strategic deployment" as one means by which the ANC can take control of these centres of power.







Jan 8

The ANC's National Executive Committee releases its "January 8 Statement."

It is entitled: "A Year for Consolidating the National Democratic Revolution: A Year for Re-Affirming the ANC Cadre."

The statement complains that ANC cadres in local government and the civil service are not being sufficiently loyal to the party. The statement makes a call to all ANC cadres in management structures, to assume full responsibility for their new powers "You are not ANC cadre only ‘after hours'."






The ANC releases various discussion documents prepared for the ANC's 50th National Conference in December 1997.

These include:




1. Draft Strategy and Tactics Document

The document states that the ANC must "wield and transform the instruments of power" through inter alia "a cadre policy ensuring that the ANC plays a leading role in all centres of power."



2. Organisational Democracy and Discipline in the Movement

The document states that the ANC is guided by the organisation principles of democratic centralism. In between national conferences the decisions of the ANC's NEC are binding on all ANC members. Even if they disagree with them.



3. Challenges of Leadership in the Current Phase

The document proposes that the ANC put in place a cadre policy to ensure 1.) that all power in the state, the economy and ideological arena is in the hands of the ANC. 2.) that ANC cadres remain loyal to the party.

The document states, "It is not individuals as such who are in government, but ANC members deployed to fulfil a function. The parameters within which they carry out their functions are defined by the ANC and they should account to it."






17 July

Business Day runs an article by Stephen Laufer stating that Joel Netshitenzhe is the author of Challenges of Leadership

The article prefaces various quotes from the document with "Netshitenzhe says..."






11 Dec

Business Day reports on an ANC discussion document on Governance prepared for the ANC's Governance Commission at the ANC national conference.

The document calls for the 1.) adoption of a cadre policy. It advocates the placing of ANC cadres in the state, the economy, the media and civil society. 2.) The establishment of deployment committees at all levels of government to ensure that these cadre remain informed by and accountable to the ANC leadership.






16 Dec

The ANC opens its 50th National Conference. The Conference is the ANC's highest decision making body.








The ANC's Governance Commission draws up a draft resolution on Cadre deployment

The draft resolution states that "Conference resolves that, the NEC develop a cadre policy to prepare members for deployment or redeployment in various spheres of governance and parastatals and the private sector." And that deployment committees be established.






18 Dec

Business Day reported from Mafikeng that ANC MP Pravin Gordhan was to be appointed deputy commissioner of the SARS.

The article quoted Gordhan as saying he did not plan to leave politics altogether and would be a candidate for the ANC's national executive.






20? Dec

The National Conference passes a resolution setting out the organisations cadre policy.


It also endorses the Strategy and Tactics document which would "guide the movement" until the next National Conference.

The Conference, noting "the need to deploy cadres to various organs of state, including the public service and to other centres of power in society" mandates the ANC's national executive to 1.) Put in place a deployment strategy, 2.) Identify key centres of power and deploy cadres there 3.) Establish deployment committees which would deploy cadres to the "public service, parastatals, structures of the movement and the private sector" and ensure that these cadres remained accountable to the party.














21 Jan

Joel Netshitenzhe is made head of the Government Communications and Information Service. Yacoob Abba Omar, another ANC cadre, is made his deputy.

Netshitenzhe is a member of both the ANC's National Executive Committee and National Working Committee. He resigns from neither of these bodies.






19-22 Feb

The ANC NEC holds a four day Lekgotla in Cape Town. (Is it at this meeting that the NEC delegates responsibility for the deployment component of cadre policy to the NWC?)

The NEC's work included electing from its ranks a new National Working Committee. Those elected are: Thoko Didiza, Gill Marcus, Baleka Kgositsile, Frene Ginwala, Bridgette Mabandla, Mavivi Myakayaka-Manzini, Sydney Mufamadi, Tito Mboweni, Joel Netshitenzhe, Joe Nhlanhla, Jeff Radebe, Max Sisulu, Zola Skweyiya, Steve Tshwete, Nkosazana Zuma.






24-25 April

The ANC's NEC meets in Johannesburg

According to an ANC press statement, at the meeting the "discussion of the national situation focused on the ongoing imperative of transforming the state." The NEC warned "those bent on rearguard action actions against transformation that it is precisely they who are a menace to fostering respect and legitimacy for constitutional structures."






29 Apr

Lt-Gen Siphiwe Nyanda is appointed chief of the SANDF

Nyanda is a former MK chief of staff and was elected to the ANC NEC in 1991






3 May

The Sunday Times publishes an article by Carol Paton and Michael Schmidt entitled "Two-thirds majority: The ANC wants ‘unfettered power'."

The article quotes ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe as saying his organisation would review the power held by independent watchdogs if it won a two-thirds majority in the coming election. The ANC would be able to rule ‘unfettered by constraints.'

Among the institutions the ANC wanted to review were, the Judicial Services Commission, the auditor general, the attorney general, and the Reserve Bank.

The article states "The call to transform the civil service, an issue discussed at the ANC's NEC last weekend, is the result of growing frustration within the party that, it has been unable to grasp the key levers of power."






27 May

Maj-Gen Gilbert Ramano is appointed chief of the SA army

Ramano is a former MK Commander and one of the ANC 37 amnesty applicants






4 July

Deputy-President Thabo Mbeki announces the appointment of Labour Minister Tito Mboweni as governor designate of the Reserve Bank.

Mbeki stated that "After looking at all the... candidates [who included deputy-governors James Cross and Timothy Thahane], it was felt that... Mboweni would be the best choice." (Sunday Times 5 July 1998)






16 July

The ANC announces the appointment of Bulelani Ngcuka as National Director of Public Prosecutions or "super attorney-general."

Ngcuka, an ANC MP, was deputy chairman of the NCOP at the time of his appointment. He is married to Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. (Then Deputy-Minister of Trade & Industry, now Minister of Minerals and Energy Affairs.)







The ANC journal Umrabulo (No. 6 3rd Quarter 1998) is released to the party. The journal contains the document "The State, Property Relations and Social Transformation: A Discussion Paper towards the Alliance Summit."

The document states, "Transformation of the state entails, first and foremost, extending the power of the NLM over all levers of power: the army, the police, the bureaucracy, intelligence structures, the judiciary, parastatals, and agencies such as regulatory bodies, the public broadcaster, the central bank and so on."

The document asks "what have we done to train and deploy personnel in strategic areas within the state. Where this has happened... have we often allowed ourselves to be distracted by the shallow protestations of the Opposition backed up by the media?"






24 Sep

Joe Foster, ANC MP (NCOP) appointed as the first chairman of the National Lotteries Board







2 Oct

The Mail & Guardian publishes an article reporting on the State and Transformation document. The authors of the document are not named.







12 Oct

Business Day states that Joel Netshitenzhe is believed to be the main author of the document







13 Oct

Business Day quotes an alliance source as stating that the document was drafted by a committee "that included ANC NWC member Joel Netshitenzhe, COSATU general secretary Mbhazima Shilowa and SACP member Philip Dexter."

In an editorial, Business Day states, "There can be no doubt that the document mirrors the perspective of the ANC leadership. Its formulation was spearheaded by senior party ideologue Joel Netshitenzhe, while drafting was overseen by a committee chaired by Deputy President Thabo Mbeki."






15 Oct

Business Day runs an article based on an interview with Philip Dexter.

The article states, "Dexter... co-authored the document... Other authors were influential ANC NWC member Joel Netshitenzhe" etc.



The Judicial Services Commission announces the appointment of Judge Bernhard Ngoepe to the post of Judge President of the Transvaal Provincial Divisions, and Judge Vuka Tshabalala to the post of deputy-JP of Natal Division.

Both judges are appointed over more senior and experienced white judges. In a letter to Business Day (21 Oct) Peter Leon points out that the ANC has an in built majority in the JSC. Furthermore, "it is common currency in legal circles that a de facto [ANC] caucus exists and operates in the commission."

In an article in Business Day (12 Nov) Farouk Chothia gives the reasoning behind the appointments thus: Although the ANC's main priority "is to see political allies dominate institutions... In the judiciary, it is more difficult to do so overtly. Race, therefore, becomes the main criterion, with government secure in the knowledge that most blacks aspiring to be judges are party supporters."






23 Oct

Howard Barrell writes a column in the Mail & Guardian critiquing the obfuscatory Marxist language used in the State and Transformation document.

The column states, "The individual authors of the document-reputedly Joel Netshitenzhe for the ANC, Mbazima Shilowa for Cosatu and Philip Dexter for the SACP-all have more than enough grey matter to talk about the issues the paper covers in simple, clear language."






24 Oct

In his opening address to the Tripartite Alliance Summit ANC President Thabo Mbeki said the ANC endorsed the document and hoped that the Summit would to. 

Mbeki stated, "The discussion paper on "The State, Transformation and Property" is one of the tangible outcomes of the Alliance Task Group on Transforming the State that we established at our last Summit. We believe that the paper reflects very important progress at the general, theoretical level. We hope that this Summit will endorse the general thrust of this paper."






30 Oct

The Mail & Guardian publishes a letter from Joel Netshitenzhe complaining about Barrell's article. Netshitenzhe does not deny he is an author, robustly defends the document, and implicitly acknowledges that he is in fact a co-author.

The letter states, "I cannot venture into a quarrel with Barrell in and on his mother tongue. But I do feel that he did himself a disservice by trying to write a critical piece on this discussion document. It seems he failed to grasp the ground-breaking issues it raises. And instead of using his "grey matter" (to borrow his phrase) by calling the authors to seek clarification, he throws a tantrum."






5 Nov

Max Sisulu, ANC chief whip in Parliament and member of the NWC is appointed deputy CEO of Denel.

The ANC releases a press statement welcoming the appointment and stating that Sisulu's redeployment to Denel was a source of "great satisfaction" to the ANC. "It is hoped that Comrade Sisulu will be able to achieve similar success as achieved in those other corporations where redeployment has taken place, such as Transnet, DBSA, IDC etc... The ANC is particularly proud of the calibre of its cadres and its ability to redeploy them to strategic posts to manage the process of transformation without affecting its ability to govern effectively. This fact underlines the depth and endownment within the ranks of the ANC." (6 Nov 98)






30 Nov

The ANC's NWC meets in Albert Luthuli House in Johannesburg. The NWC discusses and adopts a document on the ANC deployment strategy. The NWC establishes a Deployment Committee headed by ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma which will advise the NEC on all matters of deployment.

According to their press statement, the NWC "received notices from Mac Maharaj, Joe Modise and Sibusiso Bhengu and Dave Darling (sic)" indicating that they would not stand for parliament again. "Future deployment for these comrades will be made on the advice of the ANC deployment committee."

The document reviews the reasons for the introduction of the cadre policy at Mafikeng, as well as the implementation of the policy since then. It states that among the initial steps taken are locating "decisions on deployments to key positions in different centres of power" in the NWC.

The document states that:

 "We [the ANC] must strengthen the political and administrative control and supervisory structures of the ANC at... the civil service." And "strengthen our leadership of all parastatals and statutory bodies."

Among the "immediate tasks" of the ANC, are the setting up of deployment committees at all levels. The deployment of ANC MPs and MPLs and those nominated for the ANC's 99 election list should be a priority for the Deployment Committee.






3 Dec

The ANC holds a press conference and announces the establishment of the Deployment Committee.

Other members of the Committee include Nkosazana Zuma (NWC), Zola Skweyiya (NWC), Sam Shilowa (head of Cosatu, now Gauteng Premier), Blade Nzimande (head of the SACP), Thenjiwe Mthintso (ANC deputy secretary general /NWC), Max Sisulu and Mendi Msimang (ANC treasurer/NWC.)

ANC spokesmen Thabo Masebe states, "The time for self-deployment is over. Every deployment will now go through the committee, be it in national, provincial or local government." (Focus 15 August 1999)






10 Dec

An article in Die Burger quotes ANC spokesman Thabo Masebe as saying that the ANC did not need a two-thirds majority to "transform" the judiciary and the office of the Auditor General.















January 8

In the January the 8th statement of the ANC's NEC, Thabo Mbeki reaffirms the vanguard role of the ANC.

Mbeki stated there was a "need for a strong ANC made up of honest and dedicated cadres because this is the only political instrument that the masses of our people have in their hands to carry out the many and difficult tasks we have to discharge... without a strong ANC dedicated to the service of the people by word and deed, the ordinary masses of our people would have no political organisation to advance their cause and protect their interests."






20 Jan

The Cabinet announces the appointment of Michael Sutcliffe as chairman of the national Municipal Demarcation Board.

Sutcliffe is (at the time of the appointment) a member of the ANC's provincial executive in Kwa-Zulu Natal and chairman of the local govt portfolio committee in the provincial legislature. He is a vocal proponent of megacity government. The Board is supposed to be politically neutral.






15 Feb

The ANC publishes its preliminary election list

The lists include the following people:

Gill Marcus (No. 12 National to National)

Phillip Dexter (No. 32)

Willie Hofmeyr (No. 52)

Jessie Duarte (No. 2 Gauteng Prov. to National)






12 Mar

Jacob Zuma briefs the ANC caucus in Parliament.

According to Business Day (13 March) Zuma informed MPs who were not on the national list-or who wanted their names removed from the list-for the June 2 elections to contact the ANC deployment committee. The Committee would suggest other jobs for them.

ANC parliamentary caucus chairman Thabang Makwetla was quoted as saying that ANC MPs who failed to secure seats in the new Parliament would be considered for jobs in other sectors -including parastatals and statutory bodies.






23 Mar

Deputy President Thabo Mbeki is questioned in Parliament by the Opposition about the statement that the ANC wanted to seize control over all the "levers of power."

Mbeki responded, "The ANC has many people who have many skills--- lawyers, doctors, and all sorts of people with lots of skills and a firm commitment to the change that we want for this country. Accordingly, the ANC wants these skilled and committed people to play a role in all sectors of our society. Therefore the matter of the encouragement of our people to participate-whether it is in Government structures or any other structures-is something that we, indeed, will definitely pursue."







The ANC publishes its journal Umrabulo (No.6 First Quarter 1999). It is not released into the public domain. The journal contains the Cadre Policy and Deployment Strategy approved by the NWC as well as Programme of Action for the Alliance.

The Programme of Action states:

"Our failure to prioritise the transforming of key ideological centres (such as universities, the privately owned media, research and policy institutes, with exception public media) and the neglect of our internal propaganda machinery has resulted in a public debate about the process unfolding in the country which at best is shallow and at worst anti-transformation."

"Our weak cadre and deployment policies have resulted in the diminishing of our political cohesion, the spread of disunity and opportunism, poor co-ordination and accountability mechanisms for cadres we deployed in different sectors and the neglect of certain sectors such as local government."






30 Apr

Gill Marcus is appointed deputy governor of the Reserve Bank

Marcus is Deputy Finance Minister at the time of the appointment, and a member of the ANC's NEC & NWC






3 May

The ANC releases its final electoral list

Jessie Duarte, Gill Marcus, Phillip Dexter & Willie Hofmeyr are absent from the list.






20 May

Willie Hofmeyr, ANC MP, is appointed head of the Asset Forfeiture Unit in the National Directorate of Public Prosecutions.







1 Aug

The London Sunday Times publishes an article on the ANC cadre policy entitled "ANC plot to take ‘total power' is revealed." This is the first time the cadre policy is reported on in the press.

The article states, "An internal document drawn up by senior members of South Africa's ruling party has revealed that it plans to place loyalists in powerful positions with the aim of securing ‘complete hegemony' over the country."






21 Aug

Sibusiso Bengu, ex-ANC cabinet Minister is appointed Ambassador to Germany.


Jessie Duarte, disgraced Gauteng Safety and Security MEC and ANC NEC member is appointed Ambassador to Mozambique.







25 Aug

Tony Leon asks the President whether the cadre policy (Umrabulo no.6) is official government policy.

In response Deputy President Jacob Zuma, claimed that it is merely a discussion document.

He acknowledged that the ANC "has established deployment committees at national and provincial levels". These committees would "identify people, not just from the ANC, who are committed to the ideals of the new Constitution and who have the necessary skills for particular positions in the public and private sectors. These people will then be encouraged to apply for vacant positions. Obviously the normal and transparent employment procedures... would still be followed."






27 Aug

Phillip Dexter, (ex) ANC MP is appointed head of Nedlac

Dexter is an executive director of Union Alliance Holdings and a member of the SACP's central committee. (Business Day 30 August 99)






17 Oct

The Sunday Times publishes the first article about a document entitled "Assessing the balance of forces in 1999" in Umrabulo no. 7 3rd Quarter 1999. The document identifies as the Police as the only state institution not yet under ANC control. It calls for renewed efforts to extend ANC hegemony over civil society

The document states:

"the balance of forces in the police is less favourable than in the army and we should therefore improve the capacity to introduce major changes in the police-whether through regulation, legislation or deployment."

Under the heading Media, the Public Debate and Hegemony the document states,

"this area is critical, because even though we may have made progress in material terms, unless the forces for change are able to exercise hegemony, it will impact on our capacity to mobilise society."

"The transformation of the SABC did take much longer than we thought and more needs to be done at middle management level. With regards the print media, the ownership structures remain a problem."

"The movement also needs to look at other elements of the ideological apparatus in society responsible for the promotion and development of ideas. This includes universities, research and policy institutes, culture, etc."






20 Oct

Cabinet announces various appointments,

These include:

Jacob Selebi as national police commissioner

Vusi Mavimbela as Director-General of Intelligence

Job Makgoro as head of the South African Management Development Institute

Selebi, the DG of Foreign Affairs at the time of his appointment, was a former ANC MP and head of ANCYL

Mavimbela, Intelligence Advisor to the President, was trained by the Stasi. He held various ANC positions in exile. Between 93-94 he was Head of the ANC DIS in KZ-N

Makgoro, DG of the NW Province at the time of appointment was chair of ANC Employee Benefits Unit from 1992






21 Oct

Umrabulo No.7 is placed on the ANC's website. It also includes an article by David Makura, and ANCYL and NEC member

Makura states, "There are few activists of our movement who are working in the current NGO movement. We shall be making a serious mistake if we do not deploy cadres in structures such as NGO's."


























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