The Public Service Commission says “cadre deployment” is misused to reward undeserving, inexperienced and unqualified political party officials.
The commission has compiled a damning discussion document that is due to be tabled at the Developmental State Conference this week – and it doesn’t have much good to say about South Africa’s civil service.
The commission researched countries like China and Singapore, where cadre deployment is the norm and governing party members hold nearly 80% of posts in the civil service.
But here at home, it says, the civil service must appoint suitably qualified people based on experience – not just political considerations.
“The point, therefore, is not whether a ruling party deployed its cadres to public service positions, but rather whether those deployed are qualified and have the ability to perform the job,” the commission says in its report.
In China and Singapore, it says, “the ruling political parties have ensured that those deployed are qualified and the deployment of cadres has not undermined the meritocratic nature of the public service”.
“Cadre deployment has in recent times assumed a negative connotation as it is taken to mean the appointment, on purely political considerations and patronage, of persons who are not suitably qualified for the posts concerned,” it says in the report.
This is so widespread that “some understand the concept of cadre deployment to suggest employment in the public service of persons who might not have qualifications or ability to do the job”.
It uses Brazil as another global example, saying “cadre” employment there is based on “talents, qualifications and experience”.
“This has powerful positive developmental effects because appointments are not made on the basis of political and other primordial considerations – civil servants act authoritatively in the national interest.”
The commission is suggesting wide-ranging changes to the recruitment and appointment of civil servants, including setting a minimum number of years of service before a public servant can be promoted from one rank to the next.
It researched developmental states like Malaysia and Mauritius, where it takes between five and eight years for public servants to be promoted.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The Public Service Commission?...?does accept that cadre deployment is a worldwide phenomenon, although it has created some inefficiencies in our government. At this stage, that’s just a discussion document and we would only like to engage publicly on it once it has been adopted at the conference.”