ANC Hands Over Cadre Deployment Records to DA After Legal Battle

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

After a three-year legal battle with The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been ordered to hand over 11 years of cadre deployment records. 

In what has been labeled ‘determined lawfare’ by the DA, the opposition has managed to utilize  the South African court system to access records detailing the internal workings of the ANC’s policy of appointing Ministers, Municipal Managers and Mayors, based on political merit rather than experience. 

In a statement the DA claimed, “ANC cadre deployment laid the foundation for state capture, for systemic corruption, and for the service delivery collapse that caused loadshedding, water-shedding, and the accelerating failure of the state.”

What is Cadre Deployment?:

According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, cadre deployment is “when a political party sets out to achieve its strategic and ideological goals by spreading its influence [read control] across all spheres of society by placing party activists in positions of power in institutions of state – which are constitutionally mandated to be impartial and serve society as a whole.”

The Constitutional Court has ordered the ANC to hand over “complete meeting minutes, email correspondence, Whatsapp conversations, CVs and all other relevant documentation dating back to January 2013,” when Cyril Ramaphosa, the nation’s current President became the Chairman of the Cadre Deployment Committee.

ANC members are appointed to various positions based on their membership within the party, including Minister of Police Bheki Cele who also serves as the ANC’s Chief Executive Organ. 

So, What Now?:

Only one court case, Mlokoti v Amathole District Municipality & another 2009, has directly focused on the issue of politically influencing municipalities. 

According to the Law, Democracy and Development Journal, the Mlokoti v Amathole District & another case was as follows: 

“In 2008, the Amathole District Municipality in the Eastern Cape advertised the position of municipal manager. Following a shortlisting process, one Mr Mlokoti (the applicant in the case in question) and Mr Zenzile (the second respondent) were the preferred candidates. An interviewing panel subsequently assessed their respective strengths and weaknesses, after which the municipal council resolved to appoint Mr Zenzile, although everything pointed to Mr Mlokoti as the better candidate. Mr Mlokoti successfully brought an application for the review and setting aside of the second respondent’s appointment, and for the Court to order that he (Mr Mlokoti) be appointed instead.

From the Court documents, it appears that the applicant came across a letter written by Amathole’s executive mayor to the chairperson of the ANC in the Eastern Cape, seeking guidance “regarding the further conduct of the matter [the appointment of a municipal manager] from the ANC provincial leadership”. In the letter, the executive mayor conceded that the first applicant had been “consistently rated as the better candidate by the selection committee”; that the municipality had obtained two legal opinions, both of which advised in favor of the applicant’s appointment; that the ANC caucus had decided to withhold these legal opinions from the opposition parties in the municipal council; and that, subsequently, the council, with the dissent of the opposition parties, had decided to appoint the second respondent. The latter made it abundantly clear that the executive mayor was well aware of the fact that the best candidate had not been appointed, and that no compelling reason had ever been advanced for “avoiding to appoint the most suitable candidate”

The author of this article, Professor Cornelius F Swanepoel, a Public Law Research Fellow at the University of the Free State concluded that, “what the Mlokoti case has confirmed is that the legal foundation for the exercise of public power is found in the Constitution and its enabling legislation, and not in party political policy, such as the ongoing practice of cadre deployment. In an investigation of cadre deployment, the article then demonstrates that this ANC policy, particularly judging by its stated purpose, is incompatible with the constitutional State and, instead, enables the rise of the shadow State.”