Don’t be fooled by Ramaphosa's sweet talk

John Steenhuisen says state capture is still very much alive despite what the President says


17 August 2021

Don’t be fooled by the president’s claim that the era of state capture has ended and we need only defeat corruption now. State capture and cadre deployment are two sides of the same coin. You can’t keep one and end the other.

The rampant looting and delivery failures we continue to see all around us are by-products of state capture, which is still very much alive.

If “the era of state capture is over” as Ramaphosa claims, how is it that SAPS, the State Security Agency and the SANDF looked the other way when insurrection was brewing and shops were burning in KZN and Gauteng? How is it that judges continue to be deployed by the ANC’s Cadre Deployment Committee?

A state operating for the good of South Africa rather than one or other faction of the ANC would have acted quickly to quell the insurrection before it got going and would respect the fundamental democratic principle of the separation of powers.

State capture is the inevitable outcome when people are deployed to state positions to serve private (party, factional or individual) rather than public interests, which is what the ANC’s Deployment Committee does.

This is why the DA last week tabled the End Cadre Deployment Bill which seeks to replace cadre deployment with a wholly independent Public Service Commission mandated to ensure all appointments are based strictly on merit.

It will be revealing to see which members of Parliament support or oppose this Bill which is so fundamental to fixing South Africa.

If Ramaphosa seriously opposes state capture, then rather than falsely pronounce on its death, he must kill it by ending cadre deployment. Action over platitudes.

But rather than taking action to end cadre deployment, Ramaphosa has repeatedly defended it. Last week he asked Deputy Chief Justice Zondo not to rule that the ANC’s Cadre Deployment Committee be scrapped. This is despite declaring himself “committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage” in his newsletter of 21 January 2020.

Quite apart from the fact that cadre deployment has given rise to the four greatest evils plaguing the South African state – incompetence, corruption, capture, and impunity – it is also illegal. Section 197(3) of the constitution states: No employee of the public service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular political party or cause.

The first step to curing a disease is accurate diagnosis. The DA has consistently led the fight against cadre deployment because we long ago realised it was the root of the rot.

As far back as 2000, the DA published a seminal paper titled All Power to the Party. Written by James Myburgh who was a DA parliamentary researcher at the time, it warned that the separation of party and state, and the separation of powers within the state, were crucial to a functional democracy, and that cadre deployment - formally adopted by the ANC in 1997 with the stated intention of enabling the party to gain control of “all levers of power” - would lead to the criminalization, politicization and weakening of the state. As indeed it has.

This was one of countless warnings the DA issued over the past two decades. (As with our Stop Zuma campaign in 2009, these warnings were mostly brushed off as racist. Ironically, it is poor people – 99.8% of whom are black – who have most suffered the effects of cadre deployment and state capture.)

DA action, not Ramaphosa largesse as he would have people think, led to the establishment of the Zondo Commission. On 18 March 2016 the DA lodged a complaint with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and requested an investigation into President Zuma’s conduct in relation to the Gupta family involvement in cabinet appointments. That complaint led to Madonsela’s State of Capture report of November 2016 when she ordered Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry. And so the Zondo Commission was born.

More recently, it was the DA that first requested the Zondo Commission to investigate ANC cadre deployment as the mechanism for state capture. Months ago, the DA sent a list of questions on cadre deployment to the Zondo Commission, many of which were used by the evidence leaders to expose the origins of state capture. It was the DA that suggested that the Commission subpoena the minutes of deployment committee meetings, minutes which last week exposed that state capture is still ongoing. It is the DA that is fighting an ongoing court battle to force the release of all records of cadre deployment. And it is the DA that has produced the parliamentary bill that can ultimately slay cadre deployment.

We will continue to lead the fight against cadre deployment and state capture. Hopefully, South Africans will realise sooner rather than later that the DA, not Ramaphosa, is their “knight in shining armour” going into battle on their behalf – not with presidential platitudes and false declarations, but with insightful analysis, hard action and real solutions.

Kind Regards,

John Steenhuisen