The workings of the Cadre Deployment committee exposed
Geordin Hill-Lewis |
10 January 2022
Geordin Hill-Lewis writes on the significance of the release of the minutes, thanks to Leon Schreiber
The DA's Leon Schreiber has achieved something truly extraordinary, which I hope every South African comes to know about. I don't think it is any exaggeration to say this is one of the most important stories in SA's post-democratic history, and will continue to be so as it unravels further. What has he done?
After a year of digging, court cases, threats of court cases, and Access to Information Requests, he has got hold of the minutes of meetings of the ANC's "Deployment Committee".
For background: The ANC operates a system of "Cadre Deployment", which seeks to plant loyal ANC cadres in senior positions in the state and parastatals. Naturally, this means people are appointed on the basis of political loyalty to the ANC, not on the basis of ability to actually run them well. The consequences of this policy of cadre deployment are everywhere for all of us to see: chronically failing state departments and parastatals, nearly without exception.
Entirely predictably, what started out as trying to fill the civil service with people loyal to the party, quickly became about filling key posts with people loyal to *your faction* of the party. And so the leadership of the civil service and key state companies was not only politicised and de-professionalised, but also factionalised. A recipe for exactly the kind of wide-scale state failure we now see.
The DA has long known that the Deployment Committee exists, but have had no evidence of its goings on. Until now!
This exposé is a thermo-nuclear bomb detonating in the centre of our politics. Or at least it should be.
Perhaps most explosive is the revelation that the Deployment Committee even discusses appointments to the judiciary, where political loyalty should play no role whatsoever in appointments. Indeed, even the credible apprehension of bias is enough to disqualify judges from hearing cases.
Now we know that the President's appointment of judges to all of the court benches in the country are recommended by the Deployment Committee.
Yes, judges, who must uphold the rule of law, protect individual rights and who are the last and most definitive check and balance on the power of the state -- there is now very credible evidence that the appointment of these judges is decided by the ANC's Deployment Committee. And there is at least indicative evidence (more to be uncovered here) that some judges actually knew about this and participated in it.
This means that the Judicial Service Commission, the body Constitutionally created and empowered with the interview and recommendation of judges for appointment, has been usurped by a shadowy group at Luthuli House seemingly with the express purpose of filling the bench with loyalists (if this were not so, why discuss these appointments here, instead of at the JSC).
As truly outrageous as this is, the shocks do not stop there.
We now know, for example, that the Chairman of the Nuclear Energy Board (No kidding!) was appointed because "he is a long standing member of the ANC". It is hard to think of a place more dangerously inappropriate to appoint someone on the basis of political loyalty.
We are just a few days in to the details of this story, and already we know:
- the Cadre Deployment Committee members include those directly implicated in state capture
- The Committee keeps a special database of loyal cadres for deployment to SOE boards
- SOE board seats are expressly reserved for ANC cadres
- Even SanParks, responsible for nature conservation and management of our national parks, had its board stacked with cadres
- Senior civil servants, like the Director General of the DTI, attended Deployment Committee meetings
Leon started working on this story to make a simple yet absolutely essential point: the evil of state capture is not some aberration, and is not a creation just of the Zuma presidency.
State capture is official ANC policy, exercised through the cynical deployment of cadres loyal to one's own faction. So, when state capture results in tens of billions of rands being stolen, and essential state services collapsing, then this is just the awful final (but obvious) consequence of deliberately undermining the capacity of the state to serve your own power base.
There is much, much more to this story, and many more details still to unearth. But watch this story closely, because SA will not thrive as a country so long as the capacity of the state is crippled by cadre deployment. If we are serious about ending state capture, we must uncover every ugly detail of cadre deployment.
As Tony Leon said, "this is one of the most chilling documents to be revealed in public since 1994". I completely agree.