Comrade Judges

Helen Zille writes on the revelation that the ANC deployment committee pre-selected judges for appointment

At last, this story is getting some of the attention that it deserves.

The front-page lead of Rapport today highlights the most shocking aspect of the minutes of the ANC's cadre deployment committee -- that it pre-selected some judges for appointment.

Having served myself on the Judicial Service Commission, that nominates judges for appointment, I have known for a long time that it is something of a farce. The ANC nominees (who form a majority on the committee) had clearly pre-caucused the issue, and the interviews were a mere formality.

However, now it has been revealed that the ANC's centralised deployment committee, chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, actually identified which judges should be appointed, and clearly the instructions went down the line to the ANC deployees in the JSC.

The minutes were released, following a dogged campaign led by the DA's Leon Schreiber, to get to the heart of the cadre deployment system which is the direct cause of "state capture" and the failed state in South Africa.

The minutes were released by the Zondo Commission following an application by Schreiber in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) Act.

Just a few months ago, when I suggested that the courts were likely to enable the ANC to postpone the election for sufficient time to re-set the candidate selection process, in order to be able to nominate candidates it had failed to nominate by the set deadline, I was viciously attacked by most of the legacy media.

My response was that both the JSC and the Electoral Commission (EC) had long been captured institutions, and that they would find a way to enable the ANC to register its candidates (despite the fact that previous precedent had prevented opposition parties from doing so if they missed the deadline). This is precisely what happened.

However, the scandal is far deeper than even I imagined, and the minutes of the ANC deployment committee expose "state capture" for what it really is: the Capture of notionally independent state institutions by the ANC, in order to bend these institutions to do the ANC's bidding.

That is the way that I first used the term to describe what was going on in South Africa, many years ago. The phrase "state capture" has since been perverted to mean the "capture" by private business interests of the state's procurement system.

That happened because Jacob Zuma's ANC captured the State. And all the Guptas (and other businessmen) had to do then, was to capture Jacob Zuma. Mission accomplished.

However, one of the most significant aspects to emerge from the ANC's deployment committee minutes is the fact that they reveal that "state capture" was not a "Zuma thing". State capture, through the ANC's deployment committee, remains in full swing, under the Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa.

That is why I laughed out loud when I heard our President promise an end to "State Capture" in the ANC's January 8 statement. He clearly has no idea what the concept is.

If he were serious, he would disband the ANC's deployment committee immediately and ensure that judges are appointed from the ranks of the country's most senior legal experts, on the basis of their expertise alone.

So don't be fooled when the President says he wants to end "state capture". It is flourishing under his tenure. While Zuma was President, Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the deployment committee. Under Ramaphosa's presidency, this job belongs to his deputy, David Mabuza.

There is a long way to go in the battle against "State Capture". The fact that DA MP, Leon Schreiber, has managed to get the deployment committee's minutes released is a gigantic step in the right direction. This exemplifies what the role of an opposition in a democracy is.

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