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Dr Leon Schreiber is the DA Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration. He joined the BizNews Power Hour to discuss cadre deployment – a hot topic that’s on the lips of many, including the Zondo Commission. President Cyril Ramaphosa has been testifying at the commission, with Schreiber telling BizNews that “what happened today, essentially, is that the Zondo Commission acceded to a request that the DA had submitted at the beginning of the year, where we asked the commission to obtain minutes and records of decisions taken by the cadre deployment committee. Our reasoning was that if you really want to test the influence of this committee on the appointment of various individuals, then you really have to look and see what was discussed. That way, you can cross reference it to what President Ramaphosa – who was the former chairperson of this committee – says during testimony.” – Jarryd Neves
Leon Schreiber on cadre deployment
This was a really momentous day – and one that has the potential to begin marking the end of cadre deployment which is, as you rightly say, something that the DA has been warning about for over two decades now. What happened today, essentially, is that the Zondo Commission acceded to a request that the DA had submitted at the beginning of the year, where we asked the commission to obtain minutes and records of decisions taken by the cadre deployment committee.
Our reasoning was that if you really want to test the influence of this committee on the appointment of individuals like Dudu Myeni, Hlaudi Motsoeneng and a whole litany of people we’ve heard about in this testimony, then you really have to look and see what was said and discussed. In that way, you can then cross-reference it to what President Ramaphosa – who was the former chairperson of this committee – says during testimony. What emerged is that according to the ANC – and very conveniently for Ramaphosa – the records between 2013-2018 (when he was the chairperson) apparently don’t exist.
They are saying they never existed. He says he never recalled having minutes put in front of him or being discussed, which is an absolutely fantastical thing to expect South Africans to believe. It is just so incredibly convenient for the president that this happens to be the period where these records are not available. That is obviously something we will continue to probe further. You may know that we’ve got a court case pending against the ANC, where we are asking for the records dating back all the way to 2012. We’re going to certainly try and use every mechanism we can find to ascertain whether it is possible that a committee of the ANC – which essentially influences appointments to the most powerful organs of our state – doesn’t even do something as basic as keep records. It is an outrageous thing if it’s true and it is an outrageous thing if it’s not true.
On President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony:
When the president was grilled on specific appointments like Brian Molefe – and some of the others at SOE’s during this time when he was the chairperson of the current employment committee – he’s now able to say he doesn’t recall [and] doesn’t remember the discussion. He doesn’t know if it came through the committee. The absence of these records for this very specific time period gives him the plausible deniability. It is really a stretch to expect South Africans to believe that that’s the period for which the records disappeared.
I do want to say, however, that what is equally as important is the fact that the commission did, in line with the DA’s request, obtain records from 2018 onwards. What that shows, among other things, is that cadre deployment has continued unabated. It has also, basically, blown up the argument that Ramaphosa and others have been making, that the deployment committee is not really that important because it makes these soft, squishy recommendations. But when you look at the records that that the commission examined today, you’ll find that – as Advocate Pretorius said – it is, in fact the minister who makes a recommendation and the deployment committee in many cases, who decides who gets appointed.
That is patently unconstitutional in our view. I think the most shocking thing to emerge from today’s testimony specifically, was from March 2019. This is two years after Jacob Zuma resigned. It’s supposed to be two years almost into the reform agenda that the president was selling the country. But in 2019, the deployment committee of the ANC recommended specific names for who should be appointed as Constitutional Court judges, as a judge to the Supreme Court of Appeal and as a Judge President in one of the provinces. Now, this is judicial capture. It is interfering in the role and the work of the Judicial Services Commission – it means that ANC members on that commission do not go into interviews with an open mind, where they look for the best candidate as they’re Constitutionally supposed to do. Instead, they have an instruction that was given to them prior to the interviews even having taken place. Then they execute the mandate or the decision that benefits the party rather than the country. Very explosive evidence and something that that goes to the heart of our constitutional democracy.
On what needs to be done about this:
I rather ambitiously said that the goal here has to be to kneecap cadre deployment. We have to get rid of this thing. What is important about today – and why I think it could be the beginning of the end for this system – is that it has laid bare the inner workings of the committee, at least going back to 2018. It means that Ramaphosa and others who argue that this committee is not important; that argument is out the window. It now looks, in my estimation, very likely that the Zondo Commission is going to make a recommendation which says – exactly what the DA has been campaigning on for many years – that cadre deployment is a fundamental cause and a foundational aspect of state capture.
As long as you have an unelected, secretive committee in a political party essentially deciding who is employed in the most powerful positions in the state – on the basis of their loyalty to the ANC rather than to the country – state capture will not go away. In fact, what I think we can say after today’s testimony – especially the revelations around the interference with appointments to the constitutional court – is that state capture didn’t end the day that Jacob Zuma left. I think it takes on other forms. It’s perhaps more subtle than it was with Zuma. But as long as the deployment committee exists and exercises this unconstitutional influence, we will not have a capable state in South Africa.
- Cape Independence, Medupi mayhem and Cadre deployment with Magnus Heystek
- Cadre deployment: Why SA’s ministers are so bad
- ‘The end goal is to kneecap cadre deployment’ – Dr Leon Schreiber of the DA
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