Helen Zille responds to Cameron Dugmore of the ANC's claim that it does
There was a flutter in the dovecot recently, when the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore accused the DA of “double standards” in relation to cadre deployment.
To support his claim, Dugmore cited a letter, written by then Western Cape Chairman of the Democratic Alliance, Anton Bredell, to the DA caucus in the George Municipality, which actually demonstrates the opposite of what Dugmore claims.
In the letter, Bredell asked the DA caucus to explain why it had deviated from the unanimous recommendation of a candidate by a selection panel in the municipality, without referring the matter back to the panel.
He also reminded the DA caucus that the selection panel’s recommendation should be referred straight to the full Council, and not go via the DA caucus for approval. In other words, Bredell was trying to stop the interference by the DA caucus in the selection processes of the George municipality.
His intervention came at a time of turmoil in the George Council when there were several forensic audits under way and a few former DA councillors stood accused of building patronage fiefdoms in the municipality.
Proof of DA “cadre” deployment at work. See official letter from DA WCape to DA George caucus telling them not to appoint director corporate services as all appointments must be approved by DA FedEx.Wrote to DA yesterday asking for all minutes and letters sent from 2009. pic.twitter.com/914sF4okwa
Bredell sought to end this practice. In other words, he was trying to prevent cadre deployment.
However, the problem in the letter arises in that it informs the caucus that the appointment could not be made without the approval and sign-off of the DA’s Federal Executive. For this purpose the Fedex required the “scoping report” and the recommendation of the consultant to the council. Bredell’s goal was to ensure that the professional recommendations were implemented and not by-passed or undermined by the DA’s George caucus.
However, this sentence in the letter inevitably created the impression of political interference by the DA’s Fedex in administrative appointments in the George municipality.
Nevertheless, whichever way you read Bredell’s letter, it cannot be compared with ANC-style cadre deployment. The DA has never had a committee of any kind that instructs DA governments who to appoint to specific positions, as the ANC deployment committee did (and still does).
If anything, the DA sought to prevent DA municipalities from undermining merit-based selection processes through establishing local patronage networks. Anyone reading Bredell’s letter to the George caucus, will see immediately that this was his intention.
The background to Bredell’s letter dates back to a Fedex meeting of September 30 and October 1, 2016, shortly after the 2016 local government election, in which the DA successfully established coalition governments in several metropolitan municipalities with the support of the EFF.
The DA’s Fedex realised how vulnerable our governments were to manipulation by other parties, especially the EFF, who could potentially use their leverage to demand favours from the DA in return for keeping the DA in government. To prevent the EFF calling the shots in staff appointments in municipalities, the DA’s Fedex adopted a resolution to secure accountability by DA governments to DA values and principles.
One clause in the resolution ran the risk of opening the way for political interference in local government administrations. It read:
The federal executive resolves that:
“appointments of senior, strategic or political staff, such as the director general, municipal manager or the chief of staff in the Premier or Mayor’s office, will be discussed with such individual(s) or group(s), with the necessary skills, as the Federal Executive may designate, to ensure that such persons appointed are fit for purpose, and capable of interpreting the Party’s mandate.”
Again this resolution does not seek to implement cadre deployment; it seeks to ensure Fedex oversight to prevent the development of local patronage networks, and cadre deployment.
But it is open to misinterpretation (as happened with Bredell’s letter) and even the risk of malpractice.
So, when a pending appointment in a municipality was referred to the Fedex on August 2nd, 2020, in terms of this clause, several members of Fedex objected, saying we should have no role whatsoever in influencing appointments in local governments.
And, on June 4th 2021, this ambiguous clause was formally revoked by the Fedex, due to the evident risk of misinterpretation and potential abuse.
So it is quite clear: The DA Fedex has never sought to apply cadre deployment -- indeed we have tried to prevent it. One of the prevention methods, contained in the resolution of September 30th /October 1st 2016 could potentially have been interpreted as opening the way for DA interference in administrative appointments. This resolution was, therefore, rescinded. It no longer applies.
We did not need a judicial inquiry to tell us to fix the problem. We recognised the risk and acted on it, without being forced to, and without fuss or fanfare.