‘Cadre deployment’ a stumbling block to the Government of National Unity

Professor Boitumelo Senokoane. Picture: Supplied

Professor Boitumelo Senokoane. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 28, 2024


The fight for ministerial positions has begun. “Cadre deployment”, maybe with its “nickname” or “surname” of “concealment name” is now the stumbling block to the GNU. It is common knowledge and a fact that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has for many years criticised and demonised “cadre deployment” by the African National Congress (ANC).

The DA has consistently argued that cadre deployment was a means to/of corruption, discrimination, unconstitutionality, mockery against meritocracy, etc. It is, however, very surprising, without mentioning the practice of deployment by the DA in the Western Cape or elsewhere they are in charge, that the DA has now demanded 12 ministries (12 ministers, 12 deputy ministers, 12 directors-general), working on minimums. Perhaps, the term or concept of cadre deployment is strange to the DA and maybe they might opt for its synonym, “human resources”, or even the concept of “the establishment”, referring to the elite that control a polity, an association or an institution. Polity as a reference to controlling a formula and a process of government and constitution and, in this case, the GNU Statement of Intent tells this story about this elite. We must acknowledge that the principle of deploying one’s own comrade, colleague, patriot, democrat remains the same if not similar. Of course, there are two possible lines of defence by the DA, that would be that firstly they are not socialist nor communists, therefore they don’t subscribe to the ideology of cadre deployment; and secondly, they subscribe to employment by merit not allegiance. Minding that meritocracy disregards race, gender, social, economic background, etc. But if you know the politics of whiteness and its operations, this should not be a surprise. Whiteness has successfully managed to socially create and develop concepts for the propose of social control. It institutes and fixes ideas, moods, facts, common practices, cultural foundations and structures of intelligibility. This is devised to create a racial hierarchy and to define who has privilege. In this case, the DA is convinced that there is nothing wrong to demand the “cadre deployment” of DA members and to ask the President to be unconstitutional by demanding him to appoint based on their demand or instruction. Of course, only time will tell whether Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC will once more prove to the DA that the instruction to appoint is party instruction, or whether the President makes up his mind alone. Of course, I do not see anything wrong with cadre deployment as long as it serves the interest of the nation concerned and the constituency of the party concerned. Of course, the ANC has failed to defend its ideology of cadre deployment and perhaps nomenklatura. Cadre deployment is not a complicated ideology and should have been easily defended if there was appetite to do so. But we must agree that there has been political laziness by the ANC and perhaps the “We have arrived Syndrome”. In 1937, Chairman Mao Zedong, the son of a peasant, outlined a broad vision of cadres in his Little Red Book as follows:

“Our Party organisations must be extended all over the country and we must purposefully train tens of thousands of cadres and hundreds of first-rate mass leaders. They must be cadres and leaders versed in Marxism-Leninism, politically far-sighted, competent in work, full of the spirit of self-sacrifice, capable of tackling problems on their own, steadfast in the midst of difficulties and loyal and devoted in serving the nation, the class and the Party. It is on these cadres and leaders that the Party relies for its links with the membership and the masses, and it is by relying on their firm leadership of the masses that the Party can succeed in defeating the enemy. Such cadres and leaders must be free from selfishness, from individualistic heroism, ostentation, sloth, passivity, and arrogant sectarianism, and they must be selfless national and class heroes; such are the qualities and the style of work demanded of the members, cadres and leaders of our Party.”

Chairman Mao sees a cadre as quality personnel and not what the DA has made it to look like, and the ANC has succumbed to the negative narrative of the DA. And Nomenklatura as a concept is a reference to a system of names identified and destined for various administrative posts to run the activities of government and the industry.

What we observe and witness in the GNU Statement of Intent and the demand by the DA, is nothing but an ideological contestation and an intent for the return of whiteness as the norm, standard, law, philosophy, but “cadre deployment” seems to be what the DA wants than anything else. Of course, call it with any other different name, but the principle remains the same. Re imetswe.

Prof BB Senokoane Associate Professor (Unisa: College of Human Sciences).

The Star