Jacob Zuma on cadre deployment in 1999

by The Editor

SERIES: The instantaneous and dramatic nature of current affairs lends itself to a kind of historical amnesia, one where the captivating nature of those things unfolding today, causes one to forget the bigger picture. From the Archives aims to put forward the odd reminder that, more often than not, history is merely repeating itself. Cadre deployment is rarely spoken about in any detail by the ANC. What follows is a 1999 interview with Jacob Zuma on the subject. Although his answers are often couched in obfuscation, a great many of them are revealling and say much about the ANC’s hegemonic and undemocratic attitude to power and control.

From the Archives
Jacob Zuma on cadre deployment in 1999

11 September 2012

The excerpt below is drawn from a 1999 interview between Jacob Zuma and Padraig O’Malley, one of many interviews conducted by O’Malley with South African leaders over the course of the country’s democratic transition through the nineties. For those interested, they are all housed at ‘O’Malley – The Heart of Hope – South Africa’s Transition from Apartheid to Democracy‘, a quite excellent online historical archive I would recommend browsing.

The excerpt is significant because it is, to my knowledge, the only meaningful discussion about cadre deployment ever had with Zuma, or any senior ANC leader for that matter. Initially Zuma downplays what is set down in black and white in the various ANC discussion documents on the subject, suggesting the idea merely about getting the right person for the job but, as the interview progresses, it becomes apparent its purpose is far more hegemonic and designed not just to blur the line between party and state but, indeed, between the party and society itself.

I wonder what the reaction of South Africa’s universities would be today, for example, if they learnt the ANC had established a committee to deploy people to them, as Zuma suggests? So much for academic independence. In turn, I wonder who has been deployed by the ANC to universities in the past? That strikes me as a significant admission. Likewise, the mining sector or the financial sector, who has the ANC placed in the private sector and how did they do it?

Such is the power of the deployment committee, Zuma suggests on occasion it would be the committee itself that would recommend to the President the make-up of his cabinet.

O’Malley ends with the (entirely correct in my opinion) assertion that such a programme is no different to what the National Party practiced under apartheid. Zuma’s response, typically obtuse, is to suggest because ANC members are of all races, the comparison is not fair. Wrong, of course. Both programmes are about power and control. The Nats only happened to deploy white Afrikaaners because they were racist, that the ANC should deploy members of any race says nothing about its purpose: to control, influence and direct all levers of power in South Africa, independent, public and private and with elected authority or not.

Here, then, is the excerpt.

Excerpt: 15 December 1999 Padraig O’Malley interview with Jacob Zuma

Padraig O’Malley: I want to talk to you about the ‘cadre policy’ and the Re-deployment Committee and what it all means.

I’ve taken my information mostly from the publication called Umgabulu [and probably from here too – Editor] and various discussion documents dating back to 1996 that got incorporated in resolutions at the 50th Congress, talking about that the ANC “must wield and transform the instruments of power through a cadre policy, ensure that the ANC plays a leading role in all centres of power, that the ANC put in place a cadre policy to ensure that all power in the state, the economy and ideological arenas is in the hands of the ANC, that the ANC cadres remain loyal to the party.”

The document states, “It is not individuals as such who are in government but ANC members deployed to fulfil a function. The parameters within which they carry out their functions are defined by the ANC and they should account to it.” It goes right through, through the congress, “The need to deploy cadres to various organs of state including the public service and to other centres of power in society, mandates the ANC’s National Executive to put in place a deployment strategy, identify key centres of power and deploy cadres, to establish Deployment Committees which would deploy cadres to the public service, parastatals, structures of the movement and the private sector and ensure that these cadres remain accountable to the party.”

It also quotes an article from The Sunday Times in London written by Carol Patten and Michael Schmidt which says that, quoting from Secretary General Motlanthe, saying that, “The call to transfer the civil service initially discussed at the ANC’s NEC last weekend is the result of growing frustration within the party that it has been unable to grasp the key levers of power.” And so it goes on with the end result that there was a formation of a cadre policy and a Deployment Committee under your direction and that members of parliament, etc., who were not going to run for parliament again were told to report to the Cadre Committee where they would receive their redeployment tasks.

What’s all this?

Jacob Zuma: The cadre policy is an old policy of the ANC, development of the cadres to be ready for any task. It doesn’t necessarily get entangled into this, it’s a decision of its own. We needed to develop our cadres, an old policy of the ANC to replenish the leadership as it goes. That’s cadre policy. So it’s not necessarily linked in the manner in which it appears on the documents. Umgabulu is a discussion document within the ANC that raises issues for discussion.

Padraig O’Malley: It’s not policy?

Jacob Zuma: It’s not a resolution; a discussion. In other words to bring about political decisions.

We realised from 1994 that when we went into government there was no strategising in terms of deploying our cadres in every respect. We acknowledged that in the conference in 1994 in Bloemfontein in the political report that Mandela gave. In Mafikeng we still recognised it and took a decision that it is important for the ANC to look at its cadres because other people would leave government and go to the private sector at will and none of them were trained by the ANC. We needed to sit here and say where do we deploy our best cadres where they could make the best impact in terms of transformation, in terms of delivery? We needed to help the leaders, the government as a majority party, to say here’s a reservoir of cadres and we need to have a view also.

We shouldn’t, for example, have a situation if you have got a cadre who is not performing, we can’t make that between the cadre and the person who appointed the cadre. In other words the ANC must be a fall-back, we must be able to say, look, he’s not performing as an organisation, can we change the person and we think we’ve got a cadre who is right, who can perform there to assist the transformation, to assist the movement forward.

We also help those, for example, in other words there must be if a person says I want to go to private sector, you can’t just have somebody just standing up one day, walking away and that’s the end of the story. Somebody must be able to say – I am thinking of leaving. We might think the parastatal is important, for example, who do we take from people whom we know so that he could go and help lead the parastatal. There is a variety, there is a general policy of deployment which must be informed by skills of the cadres, capabilities, so that we don’t have a situation if you are given a position even if you are useless. Nobody can tell you to go away, you just sit there and therefore undermine the process of transformation and delivery.

The ANC must be able to say, no, no, and if it was, for example, a minister we are avoiding a situation where the President says you are not performing, I am taking you away, and the man says, no, no, this person hates me. The Deployment Committee must serve as the resource where the President could say, come, I have got these views, I don’t know what is your view. Our job is to monitor, we must say we agree with you President, he’s not performing. We might even initiate to say, Comrade President, we don’t think that minister is performing and we think that you should deploy a person there with these kind of capabilities, so that it’s not just even the President on his own.

We are part of a reservoir of resources wherein he could come back and say, and when that decision is taken that individual has also a place where he could come and say – I’m being taken away, why? Instead of one person saying we don’t think you perform, we can say no, we know that you are now performing from the organisation point of view. So I am saying in other words it’s an attempt to plan how people are deployed for the maximum effectiveness and maximum success.

Padraig O’Malley: To achieve transformation not just in the governmental sector but every organ of civil society.

Jacob Zuma: Not only government sector, everywhere. Yes.

Padraig O’Malley: If I were saying I’m tired of politics and I want to get out, then the committee could…

Jacob Zuma: We would then sit down with you.

Padraig O’Malley: …and say – listen, looking at your talents we think that you would be best if you got into some sector of the mining industry. We will see what possibilities exist there.

Jacob Zuma: Yes, that’s right.

Padraig O’Malley: And somebody else might be good…

Jacob Zuma: In financial matters.

Padraig O’Malley: …in financial matters and you would say you ought to get into the financial sector, so you would direct him into that.

Jacob Zuma: Direct him there, because they understand what it is all about that we are trying to do. Somebody else might be an academic. We say no, no, we think you should go to a university. And you say, how do you get a person – ? It helps us because once a person is in a university and has come from us we know then our policy of transforming education gets more help.

Padraig O’Malley: Gets heard.

Jacob Zuma: That’s the point.

Padraig O’Malley: In that sense and not in terms of objectives, but in the sense that in 1948 the Afrikaners when they assumed power placed their people in every key position that they could find to carry out their agenda, which was an evil agenda, but what’s the difference between what you’re doing, not in what you’re trying to achieve.

Jacob Zuma: No, I see that. The difference is that we are not discriminating. We are not removing other people to put our people. Not at all.

Padraig O’Malley: OK.

Jacob Zuma: Every South African on merit is there. We have got everybody. We have got people even from, as you know there are even ambassadors who come from the National Party, from the Freedom Front, we are not discriminating absolutely. Even that one we need to look at because we don’t want an NP person to occupy a key position to use it to sabotage the maximum success. We monitor that as well.

If somebody politicises and is sabotaging, we are going to say, no, aside, and put the right person. We have, for example, put other people who are not ANC who are better qualified for the things. This helps to focus on what we are doing.

It’s not to say, in the Afrikaner, for example, they were not putting the NP members per se, they were putting Afrikaners. We are putting ANC’s, not a race. In the ANC there are Afrikaners, some of them are occupying key positions, there are Indians, there are English speaking and we look at the quality, we look at their merits. That’s why we find them everywhere. Then it was racialism. That’s the difference, they were putting race for an evil agenda, only Afrikaners. Not even the whites per se, not a political approach, it was the Afrikaners who have been put in places and moving everybody else. So it’s totally different to this.

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