The ANC, through its controversial deployment committee, appears to have run a parallel deployment process to fill senior public service positions in government departments, agencies and boards of state-owned enterprises.
This is revealed in deployment committee minutes released by the DA which were obtained via the state capture inquiry. The judiciary and a chapter nine institution, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), were not spared.
A meeting at the ANC headquarters, Luthuli House, in March 2019, noted: “We have a dynamic link with Nadel [National Association of Democratic Lawyers]. The current process is incestuous. It contributes very little, if anything, towards judicial independence.”
This was according to notes following the preselection of judges for vacant posts, despite the existence of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
In this exercise, DA shadow minister of public service and administration Leon Schreiber charged that the governing party turned the JSC into a mere rubber stamp.
“This interference started at the very highest levels of our state as the minutes show the ANC’s cadre deployment committee preselected the appointment of judges Steven Majiedt and Zukisa Tshiqi to the Constitutional Court,” he said.
This followed two vacancies arising from the retirement of justices Edwin Cameron and Baaitse Nkabinde.
“The committee also preselected judge Xola Petse for appointment to the Supreme Court of Appeal, judge Edwin Molahleli to the labour court, and judge Mmathebe Violet Phatshoane to the Northern Cape division,” alleged Schreiber.
The ANC also allegedly interfered in the appointment of the deputy chairperson of the SAHRC and the board of the SABC.
If it is indeed the case that applicants send their applications and CVs directly to the ANC rather than to the government, it makes a complete mockery of the state’s own appointment process.
DA MP Leon Schreiber
According to minutes from March 2019, the deployment committee wanted parliament to appoint an interim SABC board but this proved not to be possible.
The minutes reflected that interviews with shortlisted board candidates had been concluded and the “new board must ensure that the debate and news mandate of the SABC is not outsourced. And it must have a person from organised labour.
“There should be a discussion on how the SABC board is appointed,” it added.
For the SAHRC, a recommendation of female candidates “was welcomed as it brought youth into the commission and was addressing the gender imbalance”.
The DA noted that “in addition to interfering in appointments to the judiciary, the public broadcaster and the SAHRC, the ANC also sought to deploy party cadres to the Defence Force Service Commission and the Armscor board, the nuclear energy board, PetroSA, and the Central Energy Fund”.
Other institutions featured in discussions at Luthuli House included the appointment of the Rand Water CEO and the Nkomati, Bloemfontein, TransCaledon and Amatola, Lepelle Northern, Umgeni, Magalies and Sedibeng water boards, the SA Post Office board, the transport department, the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, the Road Accident Fund, Post Bank, the National Lottery, Railway Safety Regulator and SANParks.
Schreiber said the DA was shocked as the minutes indicate applicants in some cases applied directly to the ANC’s deployment committee.
“Applications for deployment were discussed as a standing item during numerous meetings. If it is indeed the case that applicants send their applications and CVs directly to the ANC rather than to the government, it makes a complete mockery of the state’s own appointment process because it is the ANC that ultimately decides who gets employed,” he said.
Schreiber said the ANC had the power to appoint officials throughout the state. The records also showed the party consistently appointed officials on the basis of the deployment committee’s opinions of the candidates, or on the basis of race, gender or other identity markers, rather than competence.
In total, since 2018, the ANC deployment committee allegedly interfered in the appointment of senior public servants in at least 96 different government departments, agencies and the boards of state-owned enterprises.
Schreiber said the DA would consider the way forward over the next few days, including any potential legal remedy.