Schreiber: Concrete proof how ANC forced ‘all-top-jobs-for-useless-cadres’ onto SA, collapsing economy

After a three-year court battle, the ANC was compelled on Monday to release over 1,300 documents revealing details of actions taken by its three-decade-old cadre deployment system overseen by a communist-style central committee. SA’s economic woes – high and growing unemployment, rising debt, stagnant GDP growth – are a direct consequence of the injection by this committee of thousands of unqualified and often useless party loyalists to the leadership of corrupted and bankrupt State Owned Enterprises like Eskom and Transnet; and the broader public sector. In this compelling interview the DA’s shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration, Dr. Leon Schreiber, explains why he has been obsessed with forcing these disclosures, the root cause of so much wrong in the country. Previously a senior research specialist at esteemed Princeton University, Schreiber also provides context on the revelations, which parallels the seismic impact of ‘Gupta Leaks’ in 2017. He spoke to BizNews editor Alec Hogg.

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 01:50 – The Gupta leaks
  • 05:00 – How long has it taken?
  • 07:17 – The extent of ANC cadre deployment in South Africa
  • 11:15 – Ramaphosa’s role in State Capture
  • 16:19 – Does South Africa care?
  • 20:31 – How would a new government reverse cadre deployment
  • 23:38 – Conclusion

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Download the full ANC cadre document below

Edited transcript of the interview ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Alec Hogg: Not too many people will remember this, but back in 2015, 2016, BizNews was under enormous pressure because of the Guptas. They wanted to close us down. It all got exposed a year later in 2017 when something called the Gupta leaks came into the public domain. It transformed the debate on what was going on in South Africa and the ANC. And well, things have changed a lot since then. We’ve got something similar right now, or so it appears.

Dr. Leon Schreiber is the Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration. He’s a member of the Democratic Alliance. He went to parliament in June 2019, so he’s been a Shadow Minister since then when he became an MP. He must be a nightmare for the opposition because he did a BA, an MA, and a doctorate in political science. Prior to joining parliament, he worked at Princeton University – one of the great universities of the world – as a senior research specialist. That puts your background into perspective, Leon, you research things. That’s that seems to be your passion. What turned you on to researching the ANC’s cadre deployment strategy?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: Thanks very much, Alec. It’s great to be back with you. I actually hadn’t thought about it that way, but I do think some of those research skills are coming in useful. My interest in this issue really predates even entering politics. I spent a few years working at Princeton University, where I had the enormous privilege of looking at developing countries that had succeeded in building capable state institutions.

What I saw there, looking at interesting examples like securing property rights in Rwanda or getting proper tax collection going in a place like Vietnam, is that political interference and subverting appointment processes to the whims of politicians and political parties is the first thing that collapses the capacity of the state.

So when I entered parliament in 2019, I expressed my interest in the portfolio of state capacity and cadre deployment. I believed it sat at the heart of state capture, questioning how individuals like Dudu Myeni or Hlaudi Motsoeneng obtained power. The answer, as revealed with 1,300 pages of documents, is the deployment committee, ensuring appointments based on loyalty to the ANC rather than ability.

That has been my focus for the past five years, relentlessly pursuing the issue of cadre deployment. We even tabled an anti-cadre deployment bill in Parliament, unanimously supported by the opposition. The ANC’s vote against the bill is why cadre deployment persists. We used court challenges, parliamentary questions, and other tools over the last five years.

Alec Hogg: How long has it taken?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: Well, the court process to get these records public took over three years. The ANC initially refused my request, arguing that the deployment committee’s discussions were private. Our argument, then as now, is that the deployment committee’s decisions impact the public interest. The courts ultimately agreed, and we obtained those records, highlighting the profound impact cadre deployment has on South Africans’ daily lives.

Alec Hogg: If we draw a parallel here, consider cadre deployment in the appointment of surgeons. Imagine a person who has only completed standard one, as long as they’re loyal to the party, they’re handed a scalpel for brain surgery. This scenario places unqualified individuals in crucial roles within an organisation that constitutes one-third of the economy—the state. The sole qualification becomes loyalty to the party and influential political connections. Does this align with your understanding?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: Absolutely. I made a similar point previously, highlighting that we wouldn’t tolerate the ANC Cadre Deployment Committee choosing the Springbok team solely based on party loyalty. We’d likely crash out of the World Cup. So, why accept it for entities like Eskom or South African Airways? Even now, the CEO’s appointment at Transnet is blocked because the deployment committee isn’t satisfied with the chosen person. This ongoing issue questions our acceptance of such practices in institutions crucial to our lives and livelihoods. The exposure of these records prompts us to confront this reality.

To emphasise the extent of the problem, we’ve uncovered a database called “Cadres for Consideration,” containing hundreds of names. Many individuals with no experience outside of politics are being actively sought for positions based on loyalty rather than merit. Astonishingly, there’s evidence of an ANC cadre deployment WhatsApp group where officials dictate appointments via messages. The audacity of essentially capturing a state through WhatsApp is evident. This comparison goes beyond surface-level issues; it delves into secret databases and direct intervention in the appointment process through messaging.

Alec Hogg’s interview notes

Alec Hogg: Consider the possibility of politically powerful individuals securing high-ranking positions for their girlfriends or lovers. Paul O’Sullivan alleges this occurred with Dudu Myeni, claiming her alleged romantic ties to then-president Jacob Zuma played a role. What if this method of organising jobs and state power extends to influencing black economic empowerment consortia in companies, where the state dictates shareholders? Does this align with your observations?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: Your example with Dudu Myeni underscores why Cadre Deployment is the root cause of state capture, enabling nepotistic appointments. Without such a channel, the selection process would be transparent and merit-based. We’re challenging a system that includes all sorts of considerations except the ones that truly matter. The fight is to establish a process insulated from political interference, utilising channels like the courts and upcoming elections to drive this issue.

The Gupta leaks comparison is pertinent, shifting the political conversation from speculation to concrete evidence. The connection to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is crucial, as Cadre Deployment aims to give the ANC control over societal levers of power, extending even into the private sector. The extensive system, revealed through 1,300 pages of records, implies potential interference beyond the state. President Ramaphosa’s role in state capture becomes evident as he benefited from BEE and later chaired the deployment committee, linking private and public sector influence. This discussion challenges any notion that Cyril Ramaphosa was not part of the State Capture project. Understanding how the Cadre Deployment Committee operated during the Zuma years solidifies this realisation.

Alec Hogg: Consider the notable transitions: Maria Ramos, from a deployed cadre position to CEO of ABSA; Trevor Manuel, from Finance Minister to chairman of Old Mutual, and so forth. The depth of this practice will become more evident over time. But Leon, does South Africa care?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: Certainly, South Africa cares. Over the years, this issue gained prominence, thanks to the DA’s efforts and the State Capture Commission. Judge Zondo identified Cadre Deployment as the foundation for state capture, deeming it unconstitutional. In 2019, many were unaware of cadre deployment, but now, there’s a visceral response to the ANC reserving positions for its allies. This sentiment extends to local government levels, affecting aspects like EPWP work opportunities. People on the ground are experiencing and resenting the unfairness, discrimination, and corruption tied to cadre deployment. The ANC’s recent panic and forced exposure of documents illustrate the issue’s impact on the party and its voters.

Alec Hogg: There’s much more we could delve into, like Pravin Gordhan’s trouble with the cadre deployment committee when he appointed Andre de Ruyter. However, a challenging question remains: if a new government, excluding the ANC, takes over after the May 29th election, how can we reverse the deficiencies caused by three decades of cadres deployed throughout the public sector?

Dr. Leon Schreiber: To address this, the new government must be anchored by a party understanding these dynamics. The DA, with its experience in governing regions previously controlled by the ANC, comprehends these challenges. Clearing out inefficiencies and implementing new appointment processes focused on skills rather than party loyalty is crucial. Learning from experiences in places like Cape Town and Tshwane will be vital to dealing with cadre deployment at a national level. The DA’s manifesto emphasises abolishing cadre deployment, instituting a merit-based appointment process free from political interference, and reforming public service structures. The party’s commitment reflects the seriousness of the situation, emphasising that capable individuals should hold positions based on merit, not political allegiance.

Alec Hogg: Thankfully, we have a template in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape, showcasing that reform is possible. It’s a message of hope.

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