Cadre deployment akin to apartheid: loyalty trumps merit

- GEORGE DEVENISH Devenish is an emeritus professor at UKZN and one of the scholars who helped draft the Interim Constituti­on in 1993.

DURING President Ramaphosa’s question-time in Parliament last week he defended in general the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment in the public service.

He was responding to the leader of the opposition, John Steenhuise­n, who eloquently presented persuasive arguments that this practice is disastrous­ly prejudicia­l to the national interest – and one of the principal causes for corruption of endemic proportion­s and the maladminis­tration in government department­s. These, in turn, he asserted, are also behind the failure of adequate service delivery and cognate problems for the long-suffering people of this country.

Furthermor­e, the DA has initiated a process to introduce legislatio­n that would make it illegal to appoint persons to posts in the public service on the basis of their loyalty to a political party, which is what, inter alia, cadre deployment is really all about.

In light of the above it is opportune to put the record straight both politicall­y and constituti­onally on this inordinate­ly contentiou­s policy, practised on a vast scale by the ANC government, and defended unashamedl­y by its leaders.

In this regard I wish to comment on cadre deployment from an essentiall­y legal and jurisprude­ntial viewpoint.

It is cogently submitted that commitment and compliance with the value of non-racialism, which is clearly set out in section 1 of the Constituti­on is in practice incompatib­le with the widely and indiscrimi­nately employed practice of cadre deployment, used by the ANC administra­tion.

The practice of cadre deployment whereby persons who are card carrying members of the ANC, have been appointed to positions in the public service – regardless of their competence – is in most cases unconstitu­tional and unlawful.

This was held to be the position in a noteworthy case in an Eastern Cape High

Court judgment in Mlokoti v Amatole District Municipali­ty of 2008, in which the judge declared unequivoca­lly that cadre deployment was indeed unlawful in the circumstan­ces of the case. In this judgment two people had been shortliste­d by the Amatole District Municipali­ty for the post of municipal manager.

A selection panel found Vuyo Mlokoti to be the stronger candidate and furthermor­e the municipali­ty’s recruitmen­t policy required that appointmen­ts be fair and merit-based.

Neverthele­ss, Mlokoti was overlooked and his weaker rival, Mlami Zenzile, a political cadre, was appointed to the post.

This appointmen­t flowed from the instructio­ns of the ANC’s regional executive committee, which told ANC members of the district council who to vote for.

The High Court found in favour of Mlokoti.

The judgment was a singular triumph for constituti­onalism and unequivoca­lly condemned the practice of such cadre deployment as unethical and unconstitu­tional.

Unqualifie­d cadre deployment in general must be exposed for what it actually is –– unfair and unlawful discrimina­tion.

In effect, it is akin to apartheid in most cases, in the manner in which it operates in relation to those who are not card-carrying members of the ANC, or who are not intimately connected to the ANC.

It is conceded that in a limited number of very senior posts in the public service, as occurs in other democracie­s, such as in Washington and Westminste­r, where a particular position may justify the appointmen­t of a person whose views are aligned to the governing administra­tion, it is acceptable and legitimate.

It is, however, very much the exception to the rule. In an apolitical public service as a whole, it is essential that those appointed to serve the government of the day with commitment and competence, should first and foremost have the necessary qualificat­ions, and not be merely be cadres of the governing party.

This is the very opposite of what has and is still occurring in South Africa since 1994, particular­ly under the Zuma ANC administra­tion, where cadre deployment became so widespread – and has resulted in large numbers of incompeten­t people being appointed to positions for which they had neither the experience nor qualificat­ions – and has facilitate­d maladminis­tration and endemic corruption.

This has also resulted in other very debilitati­ng problems, particular­ly in the sphere of local governing, where in relation to service delivery there have been widespread political protests, some of which have become violent and politicall­y destabilis­ing.

Large-scale cadre deployment must inevitably lead to the politicisa­tion of the public service and a decline in competence and commitment, as manifestly occurred exponentia­lly under the Zuma administra­tion.

It is submitted that it is unbelievab­ly disappoint­ing that Ramaphosa, with his promised “new dawn” has now defended this pernicious policy and practice.

His administra­tion should be taking the exact opposite approach by adopting decisive measures to put an end to such practice in the interest of honest and competent government.

It should be doing so by both word of mouth and conduct and thereby reinstate non-racialism and profession­alism in its philosophy and practice of governance, as Mandela endeavoure­d to do.

The astonishin­g problems that our country is confronted with, as have been so transparen­tly exposed by virtue of the credible evidence presented on state capture at the Zondo Commission, are inextricab­ly connected to cadre deployment.

A paradigmat­ic change is required in this regard. This is a profound challenge to the leadership and the people of this country if we are to become a successful operating democracy and in the words of the Preamble to the Constituti­on “heal the divisions of the past …” and in terms of its section 195 promote the principles of “profession­al ethics … efficient, economic and effective use of resources”.

 ??  ?? Cyril Ramaphosa
Cyril Ramaphosa
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