'Historic victory': Court orders ANC to give DA its cadre deployment records

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DA MP Leon Schreiber. Picture: Supplied
DA MP Leon Schreiber. Picture: Supplied
  • The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg has ordered the ANC to hand over its cadre deployment records since 2013 to the DA within five court days.
  • The court held "parliamentary oversight is best served with full knowledge of all the factors that go into the appointment of officials".
  • The DA hailed it as a victory for transparency and the rule of law.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's words before the Zondo Commission - that it is inappropriate for ANC deployment committee activities to be done in dark corners - might come back to haunt him after the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ordered the ANC to hand over its cadre deployment records.

On Thursday, Judge Willem Wepener ordered the ANC to hand the records within five court days to DA MP Leon Schreiber.

The ANC said on Thursday evening it intended appealing the court's decision.

In a statement after the judgment, Schreiber said: "South Africans will for the very first time be able to see not only Ramaphosa's personal complicity in state capture as chairman of the committee, but they will also get to see the full truth of how the appointment of ANC cadres on the basis of loyalty to the party rather than on merit is the true cause of our country's rapidly failing state."

In 2021, he lodged an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the ANC to hand over the complete records of the cadre deployment committee since 1 January 2013 when Ramaphosa became its chairperson.

This information would include meeting minutes, WhatsApp conversations, email threads, CVs, and all other records of its committee.

READ | DA to ask court to force ANC to hand over cadre deployment records

The ANC refused, and Schreiber lodged the court application. 

Wepener found the ANC's decision unlawful and invalid and set it aside. He also ordered the party to pay the DA's costs.

For his application to succeed, Schreiber had to convince the court he needed the information to protect certain rights.

He advanced three such rights.

The first is the DA wishes to enact legislation about cadre deployment and it, therefore, needed the information to understand what cadre deployment entails and what its impact could be.

Second, as an MP, Schreiber has an oversight duty over appointments in state organs.

And third, that people not appointed in the public service could use the information to challenge unlawful and irregular appointments.

Wepener was not convinced by the third ground but agreed with Schreiber on the first two.

"In my view, it is indeed so that the parliamentary oversight is best served with full knowledge of all the factors that go into the appointment of officials," read Wepener's judgment.

In a supplementary affidavit, which the ANC did not contest as respondents, Schreiber placed before the court some of the evidence on cadre deployment before the Zondo Commission.

Wepener referred to Ramaphosa's testimony, in which he "stated that it is inappropriate for activities of the deployment committee to be done in dark corners and that it should instead be done openly and transparently".

"The deployment committee documents, which were disclosed at the Zondo Commission, demonstrate not only that the deployment committee, inter alia, gets involved in 'judicial appointments' it recommended names of persons as judges or candidates for the bench," read the judgment.

Wepener also referred to ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe's testimony before the commission, in which he said: "Comrades once deployed are expected to work on behalf of the [ANC] movement in the public service and parastatals."

On this, Wepener remarked: "In my view, such a deployment may detract from the objectivity of the person so employed who had to 'work' on behalf of the ANC."

READ | Cadre deployment 'not a government policy', Ramaphosa counsel argues against DA in court challenge

He also referred to former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan's evidence before the Commission on the "significant pressure" she faced on making certain appointments.

Wepener also remarked the ANC's counsel admitted there were instances where the deployment committee's wishes were not considered.

"The corollary of this is that there are indeed instances where the appointments are so made," he said.

In his statement, Schreiber described the ruling as an historic victory for transparency and the rule of law in South Africa.

"For nearly three decades, the ANC's cadre deployment committee secretly interfered in appointments across the state, directly causing the collapsing service delivery and load shedding crisis we all experience on a daily basis.

"That secrecy ends now, thanks to the DA's relentless fight for the public's right to know the truth about cadre deployment," he said.

The ANC said it intended to appeal against the ruling.

"The ANC may in due course consider conveying its full position on the matter should such a need arise after having obtained conclusive advice from its legal team," the party said. 

Meanwhile, the DA is also awaiting the outcome of a separate application, in which it asked the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to declare the ANC's cadre deployment policy unlawful and unconstitutional. 

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