State Capture

ANC state capture renders Hawks a lame duck

New Hawks.jpg

The prestige SA Police unit, the Hawks, is developing a dismal record as the two decade-long trend of ANC state capture has solidified.

What is happening with the Hawks is but an example of how the cancer of cadre deployment is eating away at South Africa’s democracy and destroying good governance.

The list of uncompleted investigations into, especially, alleged incidents of corruption in the structures of the state, state institutions and enterprises keeps growing, creating a glaring gap in South African law enforcement and the rule of law.

Also read: Zuma trying to clip the wings of the Hawks - Helen Zille

The most prominent present examples of this process, highlighted last week by the official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), revolve around the controversial upgrades of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla residence.

The DA demanded that the Hawks explain its decision not to investigate the architect, Mininhle Makhanya, involved in the Nkandla project and the alleged wastage of R155 million of taxpayers’ money.

And that is not where it ends. A civil claim against Makhanya, filed in 2014, seems to have disappeared from the radar screen after he called for the release to him of classified documents intrinsic to the case against him. He eventually got “read only” access to the documents.

It has since emerged that there is no full record of the Nkandla project and that some records have disappeared. Makhanya did not get all the documents he asked for – all of this revealing a very murky picture.

And cases against one-time acting public works director-general Solly Malebye, acting director-general Sam Vukela, and acting director-general Siviwe Dongwana, have been dropped.

Broader trend

This pattern of obfuscation surrounding the Nkandla affair is, however, only an example of a much wider trend that started well before Nkandla grabbed the news headlines, if one considers some of the examples recently given by Rex van Schalkwyk, former judge of the Supreme Court of South Africa and Chairman of the Free Market Foundation’s Rule of Law Board of Advisers:

  • In March 1997, then deputy speaker of parliament, Baleka Mbete, was said to have acquired a fraudulent driver’s licence. Never prosecuted, she went on to become speaker and national chairperson of the ANC; and
  • As Minister of Health, Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma made an unauthorised donation of R14 million to fund an AIDS awareness play, the abortive Sarafina II. Again there was no consequences and she was exonerated when an anonymous donor stepped into the breach. She went on to “… become the president of the African Union and is now regarded, by some, as the heir-apparent to the office of Jacob Zuma, her former husband”.

In March this year John Kane-Berman, a policy fellow at the South African Institute of Race Relations, wrote in an article on the website PoliticsWeb that the controversy surrounding the Gupta family and their relationship with President Zuma: “… (it) should force a wider reconsideration of practices such as cadre deployment.”

He identified the main problem as that “…state capture is the official policy of the ruling alliance of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP). So routine has it become that it is barely noticed unless something unusually dramatic involving the Guptas happens.

“The deployment of party cadres to capture as many centres of power as possible is one of the hallmarks of ANC/SACP rule and ideology. There has never been any secret about this. Nor is there any secret that it copies the Soviet model of government. It means the first loyalty of the public service is to the ruling party, not the public.”

In an opinion piece in May we, under the heading ANC state capture – SA in very serious trouble, wrote: “For the ANC, capture of the state’s apparatus has reached the stage where there is no dividing line between it, as political party, and the state.”

Kane-Berman uses Eskom as an example and argues that under party state capture

“malfeasance follows pretty much automatically. And it extends beyond the public service proper.

“Some years back the ANC captured enough power at Eskom to divert a hefty sum to its front company Chancellor House.”

Some time coming

At the heart of it all lies the ANC policy and strategy of “cadre deployment throughout the structures of the state and its related institutions.

And it’s been going on for some time. Four years ago, at a seminar in Pretoria, the Human Sciences Research Council warned that the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment is adversely affecting public services.

“One conclusion that seems to be common is that the ANC’s deployment strategy systematically places loyalty ahead of merit and even of competence and is therefore a serious obstacle to efficient public service,” HSRC researcher Modimowabarwa Kanyane said at the time.

Politically connected incompetent people were often deployed to public positions, which led to a demoralised public service.

“Incompetent and unqualified people are unable to deliver services efficiently and effectively. Competency and ethical standards are critical for an ... effective public service,” he said.

A year earlier ANC secretary Gwede Mantashe defended cadre deployment, arguing that it gives black people operational exposure, implying that if you were black, but not a loyal ANC supporter you did not qualify for this ‘exposure’. It also implied that ANC loyalty was key to progress in a civil service career.

This followed on Inkatha Freedom Party president Mangosuthu Buthelezi claiming the education system was bedevilled by the ANC’s cadre deployment policy. He also said unions such as ANC-aligned SADTU had an unfair advantage and influence over the interviewing process.

A recent investigation by a ministerial task team into allegations of posts for cash in education against SADTU has revealed endemic corruption and what amounts to what some commentators described as “state capture” by SADTU.

In 2012, Mantashe announced that “…this year (2012), it’s the beginning of the decade of the cadre.

Did it all start with Zuma?

In a recent article in the Rand Daily Mail, one-time parliamentary leader of the DA, Lidiwe Mazibuko, indeed traced it back to the presidency of Mr Thabo Mbeki.

There has been such a preoccupation with alleged state capture by the Gupta family,

“that we have taken our eyes off its handmaiden — the capture of independent public institutions by the governing party for the purpose of extracting rents, concealing information and maintaining power at all costs,” she wrote.

We tend to agree with Mazibuko when she concludes: “While our former president’s motives in neutering these institutions may not have been the abuse of public resources for personal enrichment, his tenure set the stage for an institutional capture that has been the hallmark of Zuma’s presidency.”

At the heart of it all lies the ANC policy of cadre deployment, which by its very name, is undemocratic.

Although it is by far not the only factor at play in the present violent protests in Tshwane, the culture of top-down cadre deployment impacted at that level as well. As a 21-year-old man, interviewed by Bheki C Simelane for the Daily Maverick, put it:

“This cadre deployment is like a ‘nominate-a-friend’ scheme that does not benefit many people, because very few people are connected to the top. I don’t blame the rioters because it’s evident that they are acting on the back of a disjointed, poorly-led ANC.”

by Piet Coetzer

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