Party rejects cadre deployment memo despite confirmation from highly placed sources inside both Luthuli House and Cabinet
The ANC has distanced itself from a document bearing its letterhead, suggesting that Luthuli House is warning its ministers that the appointment of senior staff must be guided by the party’s deployment committee.
The document – whose authenticity the ANC has repudiated – states that government’s directors-general, as well as executives at state-owned entities, chairpersons and board members, must always get the nod from its deployment committee, which is headed by Deputy President David Mabuza.
The document had been circulating over the past week, but the ANC had remained mum about it until Saturday, when it issued a general statement in response to media queries.
Contrary to the contents of the circulated memorandum, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party did not claim ownership, adding that “government appointments are made under clearly defined rules and regulations, as stipulated in the Public Service Act”.
“The ANC or any of its structures will never participate in activities that seek to undermine these processes. As a governing party, we are fully in support of government appointments that are based on merit and that are in the interest of strengthening state capacity to discharge its mandate to the people,” Mabe said.
However, City Press verified the document with at least three independent and highly placed sources in government and in Luthuli House, who said there was a constant need to keep reminding ministers of the strict processes that needed to be followed to ensure that strategic appointments in government complied with ANC policy.
The deployment committee, chaired by Mabuza and coordinated by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, is intended to help the government place “suitable” candidates.
When complaints about cadre deployment peaked at the height of state capture, the role of the committee also came under scrutiny.
Critics charged that this practice was a key enabler for malfeasance and wrongdoing.
In January, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter that the government was “committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage”.
He said at the time that there should be consequences for all those in the public service who did not do their work – a statement interpreted as loosening strict cadre deployment.
In April last year, the ANC’s head of economic transformation, Enoch Godongwana, was confirmed as a non-executive director on the board of the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Alf Lees, the DA’s spokesperson on finance, described the move as “a huge blow to the impartiality of the bank that a deployed cadre of the ANC is now on the board” and an indication that the ANC continued to be a “vehicle for corruption, nepotism and cadre deployment”.
In September that year, Godongwana became the board chairperson.
According to the undated and unsigned document file – which is labelled “June 2020”, bears the Luthuli House letterhead and is titled Deployment Committee Procedure – “no appointment should be taken to Cabinet without passing through the deployment committee first”.
The author of this document states that Duarte “should be informed of all posts prior to them being advertised and be sent the advert once they have been published”.
“This process is to allow for comrades who meet the criteria on the database to be allowed to apply,” reads the document.
The author also maps out the process of what is supposed to be presented to the committee by the relevant minister, including a background and summary of challenges, the advertisement post, a list of the abridged CVs of all applicants, a short list with complete CVs, recommended candidates, and a summary of the candidates.
This summary includes columns detailing the qualifications, experience, gender, age and province of each candidate.
City Press has learnt that a hard copy of the document had been officially circulated to all those ministers earlier this year.
“It is not clear how this document went public because it is only meant for the eyes of members of Cabinet and the officials,” said a Luthuli House insider, adding that at least four unnamed ministers had recently asked to be sent a copy.
The leader said there had previously been issues with ministers only coming with the candidate’s name towards the end of the appointment process.
“The ANC does not have qualms in that area for now. It is normal for reminders to be sent to members of the Cabinet so that people do not run amok and not involve the deployment committee.”
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was mentioned as one of the previous offenders, but the source said the matter was finally resolved amicably.
“After the appointment of the Transnet chief executive, he was called to the meeting, lambasted and called to order. So, that was corrected.”
It is expected that Gordhan will make other key appointments soon, and his moves will be closely watched.
The department of public enterprises referred City Press’ questions on the matter to Luthuli House.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande is also expected to fill some vacancies in the Sectoral Education and Training Authorities under his department.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to finalise appointments in the state-owned SA Special Risk Insurance Association, following Cabinet’s approval this week.
In one of the most controversial admissions of cadre deployment, Eastern Cape health MEC Sindiswa Gomba reportedly told her national counterpart, Zweli Mkhize, that the reason the province had not appointed a head of health for the Nelson Mandela Bay metro was that they were waiting for ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule to approve the candidates’ list.
A presidency official said that Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the minister of women, youth and persons with disabilities, was also expected to appoint a director-general in her department.
Mashabane apparently followed the process “clinically, right from the beginning”, but it seems the choice of candidate was contested in some ANC quarters.
A senior government official said the document was circulated again sometime last year “and it seems that DD [Mabuza] was determined to ensure compliance for everyone”.
Mabuza’s spokesperson, Thami Ngwenya, denied knowledge of the document.
Mabe said on Saturday that the ANC was “appalled by a purported correspondence of the deployment committee doing rounds on social media platforms”.
“The unsigned memo portrays the deployment committee issuing instructions in relation to certain key appointments in state entities. This memo is fictitious and does not represent the official position of the ANC deployment committee,” he said.