An ANC supporter holds a flag of the ANC while the President Jacob Zuma addresses ANC Gauteng Cadre Assembly in Pretoria. Picture: Phill Magakoe

Johannesburg - Cadre deployment, the controversial policy of the ANC of parachuting its members into government positions, may soon be a thing of the past.

Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, briefing journalists on Thursday on her vision for a professional and effective civil service, responded to a question on cadre deployment by saying she intended to produce through a new school of government “a new public servant cadre” who would be “non-political”.

They should be “able to serve the government of the day, conscientiously, with dedication and commitment, like they will serve the government of any other (party), because that is the essence of the public servant”.

This is just one of the moves Sisulu contemplates in her drive to reinvigorate the country’s notoriously sluggish and corruption-ridden civil service.

Critics of the ANC policy have said it puts loyalty to the party above competence in the recruitment of senior government officials.

The Human Sciences Research Council estimates that managers with the relevant skills account for just 0.4 percent of public servants - a finding that fits with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s experience when his department did a two-year skills audit. He recently replaced 100 hospital chief executives.

The National Development Plan, from which Sisulu has taken her cue, is also critical of cadre deployment.

Another innovation announced by Sisulu is a national database of public servants that will form part of a promised crackdown on officials doing business with the state.

Political Bureau