President Ramaphosa and ANC itself to blame for state capture - The Citizen

Jul 04, 2022
4 July 2022 - In his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the consequences of state capture.

Terence Corrigan

In his weekly newsletter, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the consequences of state capture.

“Its damage extended beyond the ransacking of the public purse, the attempted destruction of our public institutions and the grand corruption that robbed the South African people of what was rightfully theirs,” he said.

“It was also a betrayal of the values of our Constitution, and of the principles upon which our democracy was founded.”

He added that “having now known what happened and who was involved, our work begins in earnest”.

This was an “opportunity” to build “a state rooted in ethics, professionalism and capability”, he said.

Fine words, but we should ask whether the president and the ruling party will face up to their own role in state capture over the past decade – and in the form of state capture that they have been engaged in since the 1990s.

Both of these have taken the form of the party’s cadre deployment policy. The state capture commission’s report devotes a great deal of space to analysing the role that the ANC played in the events within its purview.

With typical understatement, it notes that “the interface between the party and state is of concern to the commission”.

Cadre deployment was an essential means by which “all levers of power” – which were identified in a 1998 document as “the army, the police, the bureaucracy, intelligence structures, the judiciary, parastatals, and agencies such as regulatory bodies, the public broadcaster, the central bank and so on” – would be brought under party control, the report said.

This was in flagrant contradiction to South Africa’s constitutional order and corresponding legislation, which demanded that these institutions operate in a professional and non-partisan fashion.

The ANC achieved its aims. The consequences of this were on display not only in the pathologies described by the Zondo commission but in the overall governance malaise that has beset South Africa.

In fact, over a decade ago, a report on the state of municipal government – an area where failure has been especially severe – warned about the negative consequences of just this process.

“Evidence has been collected to dramatically illustrate how the political and administrative interface has resulted in factionalism on a scale that, in some areas, is akin to a battle over access to state resources rather than any ideological or policy differences,” the report said.

This was the original state capture.

Ramaphosa’s words about the Zondo commission’s report are perfectly applicable to what the ANC as a party has been consciously doing – in concept and consequence.

Indeed, it’s doubtful the former could have happened without the latter.

The report had harsh words about this.

Cadre deployment, it said, was unconstitutional (perhaps better described as counter-constitutional) and illegal.

One remark from the report sums it up: “Above all, it is unlawful for any government functionary to implement a recommendation of the deployment committee in the filling of any post in the public service in which section 11 of the Public Services Act applies.”

(Section 11 spells out criteria for appointment to the public service, and political alignment is not included.)

The report’s condemnation is unequivocal and no justification whatsoever can be made for cadre deployment – and this is irrespective of the competence of any of the individual “deployees”.

The president himself does not escape scrutiny.

Let it not be forgotten that the deployment committee was chaired by Ramaphosa in his capacity as ANC deputy president of the ANC during former President Jacob Zuma’s term of office.

“It is not sufficient,” the report said, “for President Ramaphosa to focus on the future of the party and his envisaged renewal process.

“Responsibility ought also to be taken for the events of the previous ‘era’.”

Corrigan is a project manager at the Institute of Race Relations

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