Hue and cry over ANC cadre deployment policy, misplaced

A file picture of Anton Katz SC in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria where the DA face off with the ANC over the governing party's cadre deployment policy. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of Anton Katz SC in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria where the DA face off with the ANC over the governing party's cadre deployment policy. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 4, 2023


Mametlwe Sebei, Lufuno Nevondwe and Konanani Raligilia

Pretoria - The DA’s court application against the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, and subsequent judgments of the High Court, has again brought the matter into public and legal discourse,.

A DA victory would be pyrrhic and solve nothing. The DA is misdirecting the public discourse to defend the status. It wants the bureaucratic apparatus of the state to remain as constituted by the apartheid regime, as if the latter employed people based on any merit other than being white. To this end, the DA vulgarises the policy, and the ANC is unable to unashamedly defend it because cadre deployment is far from what the ANC is doing.

Much more problematic is the fact that the essence of the DA position is to try to entrench the immunity of the transformative agenda of the bureaucratic apparatus of the state, no matter who is in office.

The problem is not cadre deployment but the lack of it. The ANC is not deploying a cadre of the revolution.

It is deploying mediocre, opportunists and petty thieves with a counter-revolutionary agenda to plunder, and loot the state, to sabotage and misdirect public services in the interests of corporate profiteering, and aspirant black capitalists dependent on tenders for class and capital formation.

Cadre policy is historically about deploying selfless, disciplined and ethical cadres who will dedicate their professional lives towards the implementation of policies aligned with the party advancing the revolution.

Since 1994, South Africa has been afflicted by service delivery protests, dissatisfaction with the bureaucratic incompetence and the apparent impotence of the black majority, ANC-led democratic state in the face of challenges facing the working class.

For many mainstream analysts and opposition parties led by the DA, this comes down to the bureaucratic incompetence linked with the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment.

The DA declares: “For over two decades, a small group of senior ANC figures have regularly met in smoke-filled backrooms at Luthuli House to corrupt appointment processes by ensuring that only ‘loyal cadres’ of the ANC are appointed to positions of power in the public sector.

“As a result, skilled and meritorious applicants are sidelined, with positions reserved on the basis of loyalty to

the ANC. This is why the DA has long held that cadre deployment is the root cause of state capture, lack of skills, and service delivery collapse.”

The DA misdiagnoses the problem. But that is unavoidable for a party committed to the preservation of the status quo of the same neo-liberal, colonial capitalism that is behind austerity in public service, privatisation and outsourcing of services that are responsible for the failures of the state.

The DA is unable to face the fact that the corporatisation of public services unavoidably introduces sabotage, looting and plunder of public service, as well as the mediocrity and mismanagement facilitating it.

The policy and practice of “cadre deployment” has been around for as long as political parties have been around. The revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe and America gave birth to political factions organised around different sets of ideas, representing various social classes in struggle with one another, and political outlooks corresponding to them.

The factions evolved into modern political parties, as the most universal form of organisation of people with the agenda to affect affairs of the state, and seize power for that purpose.

To effect their agenda in the state, political factions and parties have “deployed” officials in elected positions and leadership positions of the state. This is universally recognised.

However, deployments sometimes go beyond that. Depending on the depth and scope of the changes required in the machinery of state, deployments were more or less extensive on various levers of state power. For instance, if there is only a change from one government to another within the framework of the same state, changes are likely to be minimal, compared to when there is an overhaul of the state.

Change from a white minority dominated apartheid regime to a black majority, a democratic state is one such example of the situation when change entails a political revolution that creates a qualitatively new state out of the old apparatus or rather, ruins of it, when that change is brought about (by the) revolutionary overturn of the old state.

The qualitative revolutionary change in the essential political form of the state generally requires a more comprehensive purge of the state. Alongside the purge of the personnel of the old state apparatus, proceed deployments of the new personnel aligned to the objects of the new state and its ruling party.

The government, led by the ANC has since 1994, come across challenges mainly around service delivery, and the enforcement of socio-economic rights as entrenched in the South African Constitution Act, 108 of 1996. It has been suggested that the challenge emanates from the incapacity and incompetence of the personnel associated with the ruling party deployed

to the government in strategic positions which require highly skilled people, (but are) without the necessary skills.

The position is mainly fuelled by the cadre deployment policy of the ruling party which seeks to assert hegemony by placing its loyal cadres at the helm of the government and other strategic institutions. We don’t agree with this perspective. While the ANC deployment is part of the reason for mediocrity, rampant corruption and mismanagement of the state, this is a symptom of a deeper crisis.

The impotence of the state to deliver on services and economic needs of the working class and poor majority, is rooted in the logic of the capitalist system in a period of economic crisis, just as the incapacity of its bureaucratic apparatus to manage the public services in the interests of the working class follow the narrow-mindedness and greed of the aspirant black bourgeois the ANC represent in the new regime of deracialised capitalism.

The greed and corruption of the public service is, however, not a reflection of moral personal failure of the “deployed cadres”, as the ANC suggests. Greed and corruption are functional to the accumulation of capital. There has been a discussion in the ANC on how this principle can be better implemented.

The cadre deployment policy directs the ANC to seek and deploy cadres who are honest and disciplined and who share the vision of the ruling party, the ANC. In its social mandate, this state ought to be developmental and foster growth and redistribution of the country’s wealth, through progressive delivery of quality and accessible public services and decent paying jobs.

The DA is unable to face the fact that the corporatisation of public services unavoidably introduces sabotage, looting and plunder of public service, as well as the mediocrity and mismanagement facilitating it

The ANC has degenerated so much that its deployment has nothing to do with the vision of changing society anymore. The ideas entail perpetuation of capitalism. In the context of South Africa’s neocolonialism and organic crisis of global capitalism, there is no party that is going to do any better. concentrated, imperialist dominated, neo-colonial monopoly capitalism and its neo-liberalism is the cause of all crises of service delivery failure, unemployment, working poor and other challenges facing the working class.

The DA won’t do any better either. The DA can only slow down the levels by stalling accumulation of the vast section of black capitalism dependent on tenders and lacking in accumulated capital, skills and experience to deliver on projects. An anachronistic enclave of racialised capitalism that is Western Cape is there to shed light on what this DA-led South Africa entails.

The DA is in denial about this, and leads us in a false chase because it offers nothing different. Like the ANC, the DA is the party of monopoly capitalism that is in crisis. In the period of crisis, there is no way of managing capitalism other than austerity, and accumulation by dispossession or plunder of the state even for monopoly capitalism.

The recent austerity measures of the Treasury to freeze wages, and posts, the announcements by the Minister of Public Enterprises to offer SOEs for wholesale privatisation, and the DA-led Tshwane Metro council decision to also sell power stations, among others, all have a common denominator.

It is a class programme that expresses this logic of capitalism in the period of economic crisis. It is the same logic that is central to the collapse of the public services, looting, and corruption, as well as generalised mediocrity and incompetence.

* Sebei and Raligilia are lecturers in the Department of Jurisprudence at Unisa, and Nevondwe is a lecturer at the University of Limpopo.

* The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.

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