118 Secretary General of the ANC Gwede Mantashe answers questions from the media at Luthuli House on issues raised and discussed during a lekgotla held at the weekend. 080614. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

 Johannesburg - The ANC has defended its policy of cadre deployment in key departmental and municipal positions, saying it cannot deploy “graduates who are hostile” to its programmes.

The party also said deployment should not be done in a way that compromised competence, as this could “collapse” the government.

“One of the things we should never agree on is to regard cadre deployment as a swear-word… You cannot expect the ANC to depend on people who are hostile to the position of the ANC,” ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.

He was speaking in Joburg following the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla in Pretoria.

Cadre deployment has been blamed for contributing to the poor performance of many departments and municipalities.

Successive reports by the Auditor-General have also pointed out to a dearth in skills as a contributory factor.

The ANC’s stance on the contentious issue came in the wake of the party’s not-so-good showing in last month’s elections in metros, among others, such as the City of Joburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.

Mantashe was insistent on Sunday that the ANC would not do away with its policy of cadre deployment, saying it was “the alignment of the administration and political leadership”.

“You (must) appoint competent people who understand (ANC) programmes… It will not work and the ANC will run into disarray because you will have graduates and businessmen and women who are competent, but who are hostile to the programme of the ANC. You can’t expect that to work.”

Mantashe was at pains to emphasise that cadre deployment did not mean a compromise on competence when making appointments.

“These cadres must be competent. All our metros must be more competent…

“You must never appoint a person purely on the basis of political connection. Once we do that, factional links will be the telling factor in the appointment.

“What we are saying is that the person must be competent.”

He added that cadre deployment did not mean there should be political interference, either in the selection process or in the appointment itself.

“We must not appoint cadres on the basis of a directive, because that directive collapses the government.”

In what seemed an admission that some of the black elite had shunned the ANC in the elections, Mantashe said the ANC had resolved to “speak to” the black middle class ahead of the 2016 local government elections.

“The starting point is that the black middle class is a product of ANC policy. If you stand to benefit from change, you must be prepared to defend change.

“We have a duty to explain (to them) that its (middle class status) is a product of change,” Mantashe said.

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