What skeletons will emerge from Cyril's cadre closet?

Andrew Donaldson says we may soon find out what ANC's deployment committee got up to during state capture under Ramaphosa's chairmanship


GLORY be, but news of an early Valentine’s Day gift arrived on Monday. Nothing altogether too lavish or extravagant, and not so much a gesture of courtship as a court order. 

But the old cockles were nevertheless slightly warmed and there was a slight stirring of the soul following the Constitutional Court’s ruling that it was not in the interests of justice to consider an appeal by the ANC against an order that it hand over cadre deployment records for the period during which Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the deployment committee. 

Accordingly, the ruling party must hand over these documents to DA MP Leon Schreiber by close of business on Friday. This moment has been a long time coming. But then it is said that true love really does come to those who wait. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

What Schreiber — and by inference the rest of us — can expect to receive, then, is a heap of minutes from meetings, WhatsApp messages, email threads, resumes and CVs and all other documents and notes relating to the role the committee played during the state capture era. According to the MP, these records will reveal the extent to which Squirrel was “personally involved” in the state capture project in his capacity as cadre deployment chairman.

Schreiber first brought an application in terms of the Promotion of Access of Information Act in 2021 to get his hands on the all the committee’s records from January 2013, when Squirrel became its chairman. 

The ANC, naturally, refused to comply, so the MP approached the courts. In February last year, the Gauteng High Court ruled that this refusal was unlawful, and directed the ANC to hand over the documents within five days. The party unsuccessfully applied for leave to appeal and, on the day it was due to hand over its records, launched a Supreme Court of Appeal application to overturn the order.

The party’s peculiar attitude regarding transparency and accountability was succinctly demonstrated by Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s small and shouty secretary-general, who declared in papers: “The public does not have a general right to receive information on cadre deployment.”

Sadly, not much consensus on that in the courts. In September the SCA ruled the ANC’s application had no reasonable prospects of success and dismissed it with costs. The party was thus still compelled to hand over the documents within five days. Four days after it had missed this second deadline, the ANC approached the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal the SCA’s ruling. Alas, the ConCourt found that there was no point in proceeding with the matter, and the ANC must now hand over the goodies.

Schreiber is apparently delighted, declaring the outcome “one of the great victories in South African legal and history”. He added in a statement:

“This ruling will ensure transparency by forcing the ANC to reveal how Ramaphosa’s cadre deployment committee laid the foundation for state capture by interfering in public appointment processes. It also sets a powerful new precedent that empowers South Africans to use the PAIA to force the ANC to reveal how it interferes in appointments.”

Those who had been overlooked for public sector jobs were urged to use this precedent to compel the ANC to reveal how it had used cadre deployment to block otherwise skilled and competent applicants from being appointed in favour of the ruling party’s chosen comrades.

“The records are set to reveal, once and for all, that Ramaphosa was personally involved in the state capture project in his capacity as cadre deployment chair,” Schreiber said. 

“The state capture commission has already confirmed the ANC deployment committee was a key cog in the machine that corrupted and collapsed the public sector because it was this committee that illegally intervened to ensure the appointment of people who captured the state. Thanks to this ruling, the people of South African will get the opportunity to see the full scale of the ANC’s complicity in state capture.” 

At this point we should remind ourselves of the dull performance that was Squirrel’s State of the Nation Address. It was so full of retreaded promises, recycled platitudes and the same old, same old that, were he were under the balcony in the garden, Juliet may have dumped the contents of a chamber pot on his deluded head.

Squirrel did however touch base with reality by describing state capture as the “challenge” that had caused the greatest damage to the country in the 30 years of the democratic era. “For a decade,” he said, “individuals at the highest levels of the state conspired with private individuals to take over and repurpose state-owned companies, law enforcement agencies and other public institutions.”

What the used cow salesman neglected to mention, however, was that it was he who was the deputy president during the latter half of this decade and that it was he who chaired the cadre deployment committee when the country was beggared by Jacob Zuma and those who profited so handsomely thanks to uBaba’s corruptible country bumpkin largesse.

Funny that. As in not remotely funny at all.

True romance

There was also disappointment that Squirrel failed to elaborate on his warning that “foreign forces” were seeking “regime change” in South Africa and plotting to interfere in the forthcoming elections. One would have thought that this threat to the nation’s sovereignty, first aired at an ANC meeting a fortnight ago, would have warranted a mention in the SONA. But alas not.

Just who, though, are the sinister agents behind this deep state stuff? 

Here at the Slaughtered Lamb (“Finest Ales & Pies”), there seem to be no end to the possible suspects. Is it the Stellenbosch Mafia? The so-called Wine Monopoly Capital? Is it Helen Zille and her dark-suited DA minions?

The barmaid here believes it could even be Taylor Swift. And why not? The singer’s everywhere at the moment. Following her “rigged” Super Bowl victory for the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, as the MAGA conspiracists had predicted, the path is now cleared for this “Pentagon asset” and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, to manipulate US voters into supporting Joe Biden in the upcoming US elections. America, of course, only goes to the polls in November — which leaves Swift ample time for a South African “dress rehearsal”.

The reality, though, is far less fanciful. Drearily, the anti-semitic tropes are dropping like turds from a goat. This was perhaps inevitable, given that Squirrel has used the diplomatic fallout that followed Pretoria’s International Court of Justice “genocide” case against Israel as the context in which to frame his conspiracist twaddle. This from RW Johnson, writing in BizNews:

“Some have interpreted [Squirrel’s warning] as an anti-semitic hint that Mossad, in conjunction with South African Jews, might attempt to overthrow the ANC. Certainly, the SABC reported that ‘The ANC is on high alert for possible attempts of regime change in South Africa by Israel’ and that Ramaphosa ‘expects a full-blown fightback from the Israelis’. Others within the ANC have talked, equally darkly, of Israel’s ‘cheque-book diplomacy’ or of ‘Jewish money power’.”

Elsewhere, the international relations and co-operation minister, Naledi “hong hong” Pandor has claimed that her life may be in danger after receiving threats on social media from “suspected Israeli agents”. 

This was “par for the course”, the Mail & Guardian quoted her as saying. “The Israeli agents, the intelligence services, [this] is how they behave, and they seek to intimidate you, so we must not be intimidated. There is a cause that is under way.” 

Pandor has now asked Cheek Bile, the clueless police minister, to “beef up” her security. (Any such help from the Cat in the Hat may, of course, inadvertently result in a substantially increased risk to Pandor’s life, but let’s not go there.)

The question, though, that has puzzled some commentators is where does all this conspiracy chatter come from. Johnson, for one, points out that Squirrel had never resorted to such “conspiratorial language” before, either as deputy president, presidential candidate or as president.

The answer, Johnson suggests, is the Russians. Moscow would eagerly assist in keeping the ANC in power — and the ruling party would welcome the help; the polls are looking bad and, as Johnson writes, “there is no way that the Kremlin will accept an ANC defeat. Putin’s ‘political technologists’ have kept him in power for almost a quarter of a century and Putin will be greatly displeased if they fail to achieve the same for Ramaphosa and the ANC.”

It’s fairly obvious that the ruling party — the party of “national liberation” — is fast falling out of favour with the masses. The threat of “regime change” is therefore quite real, but it’s one that has emerged, not through unnamed and shadowy forces serving foreign interests, but rather as a result of the ANC’s own uselessness. Voters are finally accepting that the party is so hopelessly corrupt and inept that it is incapable of competent governance and they want change.

The fear of electoral interference is consequently also valid. The ANC clings to the belief that is they, and they alone, who have the right to rule the country regardless of what voters may decide. Dirty tricks and foul play are expected.

Smear campaign

What is the cause of Julius Malema’s apparent nasal problem? It’s a terrible question, but it’s one that has been raised by many citizen commentators after a clip of the EFF leader’s nasal “malfunction” during his televised address at the Redshirts’ manifesto launch at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday went viral on social media. 

It was not a pretty sight. But Juju has responded on X (formerly Twitter), saying he didn’t have the ’flu and that “heavy wind and rain activated my sinuses”. Unfortunately, he did add “all was super dope”. But this may have been a reference to the success of the rally and not the quality of any alleged marching powder. That said, there are unkind suggestions that all who saw it now have an understanding of the viscosity of the grey matter between the commander’s ears.