File photo: Phill Magakoe
File photo: Phill Magakoe

Issue of govt deployment goes beyond qualifications and competence

By Sello Moloto Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

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ONE has been following with keen interest the debates, outbursts and outrage on social media in response to the recent decision by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) at its lekgotla to tighten deployment mechanisms. The outrage is so intense it’s as if the decision is a new policy being imposed by the NEC without it canvassing it first among the membership.

The decision is a simple call to begin to implement in earnest the long-standing policy position of the ANC as stated in the historic document titled, Through the eye of the needle.

The suggestion of emphasising the deployment of skilled, competent and experienced cadres is something new. Therefore, it will not on its own succeed in resolving the deep-seated problem of malfeasance and maladministration.

If qualifications and competence were the only things which were lacking in our system in order to build a capable state, we would not have seen the resignation of the emerging, erstwhile promising black bright stars of the democratic state’s new executives, with impeccable qualifications and experience, like former Eskom chief executives Tshediso Matona, Brian Molefe and Phakamani Radebe, among others.

Many directors-general and senior government managers leave the public service in a similar manner, particularly after elections when the new administration takes over. This proves that the problem is bigger than the lack of qualifications and the incompetence of deployed cadres. The problem stems largely from the accountability mechanisms within the party. The leadership collectives which are supposed to ensure accountability and good governance are mostly the ones who seem to be complicit in letting the rot set in.

The deployments are sometimes not so objective, resulting in many instances in less qualified or experienced cadres being deployed with responsibilities which are beyond their capabilities and experience.

In instances where the right person for the job is deployed, the dominant faction in the leadership collective forces the deployee to advance its interests, even if those interests are contrary to the broader interests of the state and the nation.

Party caucuses are normally forced to tow the party line, even if the party leadership’s decisions are in conflict with the stated party principles or party policy positions. This often leads to some leaders breaking ranks, resulting in harsh reprisals or punishments. The lack of accountability and disorder gets worse in lower structures, particularly in municipalities, accounting for why most municipalities are dysfunctional or have virtually collapsed.

Over time, it has been proven that the long-lasting solution to the outlined problem is not a half-hearted measure of emphasising the need to deploy competent cadres. Firstly, it will require the political leadership collectives to trust the deployed cadres to do their work without political interference.

The NEC should also urgently make a firm decision to deploy senior NEC and provincial executive committee members to municipalities if they are serious about turning the situation around. This will go a long way in bringing order and stability in municipalities as because councillors will respect such leaders.

* Moloto is a former premier of Limpopo

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media. 

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