South Africa: Will Ramaphosa Have the Stomach to Tighten Cadre Deployment Measures?

President Cyril Ramaphosa (file photo).

At the heart of the ANC's rot, endemic systemic corruption and moral decay, many have argued, is the parachuting of poor yet politically connected comrades into powerful positions.

During his closing address at the national executive committee's two-day lekgotla, President Cyril Ramaphosa outlined some of the party's key priorities for the year.

These included the district development model and need to address the stench caused by cadre deployment. He emphasised the need for a capable state to ensure the party would improve its methods of deployment to enable the brains trust to be at the centre of development and government.

Needless to say, the Jacob Zuma years left the country vulnerable, resulting in a cancerous state and the rise of state capture.

In what has now been dubbed "nine wasted years" (though disputed by Zuma for obvious reason), the evolution of cadre deployment produced devastating consequences, with many politically aligned senior officials linked to poor performance at best and corruption in the worst cases.

Best and worst of cadre deployment

Eskom's former CEO, Brian Molefe, is seen by some as an example of both the best and worst of cadre deployment, a feted golden boy who was destined to turn around the struggling power utility. A few months later, Molefe was exposed by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela in her "Capture of the State" report for having links with the infamous Gupta family.

Instead of being forced to face the music, he was sent to Parliament by the ANC. Other senior leaders who were "taken care of" after their fall from disgrace include Mosebenzi Zwane, Bongani Bongo, Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, Malusi Gigaba, Ace Magashule and Supra Mahumapelo, who each left their departments or respective provinces worse off.

At local level, cadre deployment has left municipalities in such decay that the delivery of services in many areas is a figment of one's imagination.

Crispian Olver's book, How to Steal a City , describes widespread looting by politicians, municipal officials and entrepreneurs in Nelson Mandela Bay, which led to a failed bus system intended to ensure easy access to communities to boost the city's tourism profile.

Who can forget the 2013 deployment of octogenarian Oom Ben Fihla as mayor who would become just a ceremonial appointee with no powers to exercise his duties. Fihla, who had no experience in government and administration, was catapulted into the position as caretaker for the old guard.

His appointment led to further factional constraints between provincial and national government. Two years later, having failed to deliver services and a legal suit from his city manager, Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela, the 83-year-old was fired and replaced by soccer boss Danny Jordaan and moved to the Office of the Premier as an adviser.

In the past years, under the ANC, Nelson Mandela Bay has had a revolving door of acting city managers and senior directors ensuring little, if any stability.

Rampant corruption and looting

In the Free State, former Maluti-a-Phofung mayor Vusimusi Tshabalala, a known ally of Magashule, stands accused of rampant corruption and looting.

In a Mail and Guardian investigation, the former mayor reportedly created 420 jobs in exchange for votes for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma at the last ANC conference. He has since been rewarded with a post in the Free State legislature as the party's chief whip.

With millions in debt piling up and unable pay to its workers and service providers, the municipality was placed under administration - just one of many ANC-led municipalities to suffer the same fate.

The deployment of cadres to key positions at all three levels of government is clearly in conflict with the Constitution or at the least separation of powers. Cadre deployment is largely a ploy that attempts to bridge the gap between party and state, albeit it being a system practiced by politicians across the globe.

Singing a different tune

During last year's election campaign, Deputy President David Mabuza indicated comrades, who had lost out on the party lists from national and provincial parliaments, would be accommodated. Less than a year later, the ANC is singing a different tune.

Enter Ramaphosa and the new wave for change and accountability. His attempts, while valiant, will see stiff resistance from those who stand to lose their livelihoods. This is politics of the stomach and influence, both of which centre on access to public funds.

The head of state not only wants to end cadre deployment, he also wants the party to scrutinise the CVs of councillors and hold those who are failing to account.

His ambitions are admirable, but they may leave him vulnerable.

Ending the role of cadre deployment, a system that many have killed for and even more have accumulated wealth from will take more than just words and warnings.

Sheer will, determination and guts is what Ramaphosa needs to drive his vision of a capable state. Are you up to the task Mr President?

Source: News24

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