/ 23 May 2022

How the ANC wants to re-evaluate cadre deployment during policy conference

Despite a high court ruling removing unlawfully-elected ANC mayor Dada Morero, the ANC still managed to score itself five new Johannesburg council chairperson positions on Thursday as it cemented its new-found strength in the city. (Photo by Papi Morake/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

The ANC has proposed an overhaul of its highly criticised system of cadre deployment to introduce more objective, meritorious and fact-based criteria, so that positions taken are publicly defensible, including in court if challenged.

The ANC’s cadre deployment policy has been under scrutiny over the years. The Democratic Alliance has called the ANC process the root of the ruling party’s capture of the state. 

The ANC’s policy discussion document published on Friday, said that the pool from which it needs to elect the requisite collective skillsets for deployment as public representatives in government at all levels can no longer be limited to members in good standing in the party. 

“It needs to be substantially broadened, so we can use the best available human resources to serve our people. To this end, a new process must be devised to elect such

public representatives, at all levels of government.” 

The party said consideration should also be given to introducing a more objective fact-based performance management system of all ANC public representatives. “So, we

retain those performing well and not lose skills because of subjective processes and factional activity in the ANC,” the document stated. 

During President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony at the Zondo commission on state capture, he testified that in the main, the deployment committee made recommendations on suitable candidates, but at times the recommendation may have been restricted to a single name.

“It is not impossible for the deployment committee to function in that way because all that it really seeks to do and should seek to do is to get whoever is fit for purpose, and particularly, if you like, in this new reformed era, of making sure that we have people who will execute the task at hand …  without feeling that they need to pursue or advance certain side interests.”

Ramaphosa blamed the deployments on “massive systems failure” which meant the committee was sidelined on appointments that ran from Brian Molefe at Eskom to Arthur Fraser as director-general of the State Security Agency.

The ANC has previously defended its deployment process with the then secretary-general Gwede Mantashe telling the media that the system was not flawed.  

Suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule had also publicly defended the ANC’s  deployment policy, despite widespread criticism that it was contributing to poor service delivery.

However, now the party states that organisational design processes of the internal workings of the ANC have been ongoing for many years and now need to be considered and implemented.

“In this regard consideration should be given to the efficacy and efficiency of NEC subcommittees and whether changes are needed.”

The proposal could mean that the automatic appointment of provincial chairpersons to provincial premiers’ positions ceases to exist. Former ANC president Thabo Mbeki has in the past criticised the party for linking ANC leadership positions to government positions. 

During the Polokwane national conference, Mbeki said a “spurious argument” emerged of a “non-existent problem of two centres of power”, News24 reported.

The Polokwane conference discussed three suggestions to eliminate two centres of power. 

The first suggestion, which elicited applause from the delegates, was for the elected president of the ANC to stand as the party’s representative for the presidency of the country.

The second suggestion was to place the decision on who should be the party’s candidate in the hands of the national executive committee (NEC), and that the decision would be based on a list process. 

The third suggestion was to elect a candidate to represent the party in general elections at the same time as the election of the leadership of the ANC. This suggestion included allowing the ANC national conference in December to decide whether the two offices should be linked.

Another ANC leader who has debunked the theory of two centres of power was Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane who, in 2021, told the Mail & Guardian that he did not agree that a chairperson or party president should automatically be elected premier or  state president. 

The ANC has also proposed that the party needs to broaden its organisation form to ensure increased entry points for membership, by introducing, among others,

sectoral branches in the ANC. These would include sectors like health, education, labour and legal. 

The constitutional amendment to introduce a process for reapplication for membership would be required, the document states. It proposes the introduction of an induction course for aspirant members and the introduction of criteria to be applied in the assessment process to decide if a member is fit to be a member of the ANC. 

“The membership system must be further and continuously strengthened to limit and

combat the manipulation of the system,” it said. 

This is a win for national executive committee members like David Masondo who had earlier suggested to the M&G that the ANC must rethink its organisational design, because its committees do not link the party to its constituents. 

He believes the ANC should establish commissions based on sectors of society to better link the party to the people. 

“Organising ourselves around, say, health or economic transformation, I think it has proven not to be very sufficient nor does it organically link us up to the people. I think we need to organise ourselves in terms of the constituencies that we basically represent.”