/ 19 February 2024

ANC lambastes DA over cadre deployment records, hours before deadline

Safrica Politics Corruption
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa testifies before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Johannesburg, South Africa, on August 11, 2021. (Photo by Sumaya HISHAM / POOL / AFP)

As the clock moves closer to 5pm Monday, when the ANC must hand over its records on “cadre deployment” to the Democratic Alliance (DA), the governing party has lashed out at the main opposition and MP Leon Schreiber, who lodged the application for the records, accusing both of “gaslighting” and “deliberate disinformation”.  

The ANC said in a press statement that although it would hand over the records, the opposition party and Schreiber were both “fully aware” that deployment committee minutes for five years could not be found.

The ANC told the Zondo commission probing state capture in June 2021 that despite a “thorough search” for the minutes of its national deployment committee, it could find no documents “for the period December 2012 to December 2017”. This was when President Cyril Ramaphosa chaired the committee.

“Dr Leon Schreiber and the DA are fully aware [of] these facts, but have chosen to engage in deliberate misrepresentation, threats and false expectations of what might be contained in the records,” the ANC said in Monday’s statement.

Nevertheless, the party said it would hand over “all records that have been found, and give an explanation regarding those records which either do not exist, or have not been able to be found”.

It added that “precautions” had been taken to comply with the Protection of Personal Information Act, “to protect the personal information of those who have not given consent for its release”.

The ANC continues to maintain that deployment by political parties is not unique to itself, reiterating that its cadre development policy and deployment strategy are “designed to advance the constitutional goal of transformation”.

In his state capture report, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo found that the ANC believed it was “entitled” to deploy “its people” to the boards of state-owned enterprises, even if this was to the detriment of the entity and the country.

It also found that the deployment committee made recommendations or stated preferences when it came to educational institutions, judicial vacancies, local government and international organisations, among others.

Zondo said that the deployment policy was both unconstitutional and illegal, violating the Public Service Act and several subsections of the Constitution, and played an enabling role in state capture. 

Ramaphosa has defended the practice. Both he and ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe told Zondo, when appearing before the commission, that the committee did not decide on appointments.

In his findings, Zondo said it appeared “that the committee does not always merely make recommendations but in fact often instructs appointing authorities on who to appoint”.

The constitutional court last Monday dismissed the ANC’s application for direct leave to appeal a high court order that compelled it to submit documents on the decisions taken by the cadre deployment committee.

The ANC had asked the DA for an extension to Friday this week to get the records together but the DA denied this. “They have known about this for three years,” Schreiber told the Mail & Guardian on Monday.

He said that the deployment documents — “minutes, CVs, email threads, WhatsApp discussions and other relevant documents relating to the committee” — were to be sent electronically to the DA’s legal team and would thereafter be “meticulously” studied.

Responding to the ANC saying in its statement that it “would be regrettable if Dr Schreiber misuses the noble provisions of our Constitution which guarantees citizens the right of access to information for narrow party-political advantage”, Schreiber said noble provisions existed to serve the public.

Noble provisions were also intended to “get behind the reasons for state capture”, he added, and the reasons for service delivery failures.

“If I read between the lines on that particular sentence, [the ANC] is saying we should not share politically sensitive information but it is clearly in the public interest,” he said. He added that if the ANC was intimating that the records would be redacted, the DA would seek legal advice.

He said that in the minutes submitted to the Zondo commission, the first item was the adoption of previous minutes, so clearly the missing minutes existed.

The DA has said publicly that if the ANC did not comply with the constitutional court ruling, it would petition the court to charge the party with contempt.

In its statement, the ANC said it was “proud of its cadres who have achieved great outcomes for South Africa, and those who are shoulder to the wheel, driving transformation and societal renewal in challenging socio-economic circumstances”.