Could new law to improve service delivery do away with cadre deployment?

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assent to a new law to improve service delivery is an indication of the African National Congress’ (ANC) acceptance that cadre deployment is counter-productive.

This is according to Advocate Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now.

New law to improve service delivery

Cadre deployment conflict

Ramaphosa has enacted legal provisions directed at improving the capacity and ethical standards of local government through, among others, the way senior appointments are made and by preventing high-ranking officials from holding political office in political parties.

Speaking to The Citizen, Hoffman said cadre deployment is a clear example of how it is impossible for one to work for two different bosses at the same time.

“We have been having a situation where people work for two bosses at the same time with one boss being the political party and the other being the people of South Africa and it often happens that there is conflict of interest built into this.

“For example, you have a municipal manager deployed by the ANC and still holds a position in the party…one Monday morning he finds a message about a broken pipe which urgently needs to be fixed and then gets a message from the deployment committee saying their son damaged their car while driving drunk and therefore he needs a new car”.

According to Hoffman, it is situations like these where a professional is tested, saying a true professional would prioritise fixing the broken pipe.

Ramaphosa defence of cadre deployment

Hoffman described this latest development from the office of the President as surprising, citing Ramaphosa’s testimony during the State Capture commission last year.

“At the time, Ramaphosa defended cadre deployment and this latest development is certainly a delusion of the evidence he gave to the commission,” Hoffman said.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa defends ANC cadre deployment ‘recommendations‘

In its final report on its State Capture investigations, the commission – headed by then-deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo – also found the ANC’s deployment policy to be unconstitutional and illegal.

As per the Zondo report, there was no reason in the first place for such a party’s deployment committee to exist.

Furthermore, Ramaphosa was not honest when he told the commission the deployment committee (which he headed at some point) did not make recommendations on judicial appointments.

How politicians will likely react

Hoffman is of the opinion that opposition parties will welcome such a move, including some in the ANC who are trying to clean up their house in a bid to garner votes.

However, it is the ANC’s Radical Economic Transformation (RET) grouping which might not be happy, according to Hoffman.

An independent political analyst Sandile Swana said municipalities such as Midvaal have for a while been doing a good job without any of the proposed changes to the laws governing municipalities.

Midvaal has for the longest time been under the leadership of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The problem, according to Swana, is the governing party which has had a long-term criminal programme.

“That programme necessitated the appointment of incompetent and compromised candidates”, Swana said.

“Among other things, all parties must agree on the abolition of cadre deployment because it opens the door for the appointment of the incompetent, the corrupt and poor performers”.

Minimum competency requirements

Swana says despite the fact that National Treasury launched the compulsory minimum competency requirements for all senior managers in municipalities in 2007, those minimum competency requirements and the associated training have not been enforced.

“Ramaphosa needs to account for that because adding more requirements when the capability and willingness to enforce existing reasonable and robust requirements is not demonstrated so far.”

Swana is also of the view that around 95% of all South African municipalities do not have competent Local Economic Development Managers and staff.

In addition, Ramaphosa does not seem to be focused on resolving the deep economic difficulties, including unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Meanwhile the new legislation, according to the office of the President, is an important element in turning around the performance of local government.

It aims to prevent the abuse of public resources and stamp out the sheltering of officials who move from municipality to municipality when accused of wrongdoing.

Among its far-reaching interventions, the new legislation provides for the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to make regulations relating to the duties, remuneration, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment of municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers.

The law also requires that a vacant post of municipal manager be advertised nationally to attract as wide as possible a pool of candidates.

A person may be selected for appointment as municipal manager only from this pool of candidates.

If the pool of candidates is insufficient, the municipal council may re-advertise the post.

Sidebar

It was during the State Capture Commission where many wrongdoings were revealed.

Tender rigging, political interference and bullying in procurement and investigative functions, hostile capture of state departments, and abuse of power by the top echelons in government. 

ALSO READ: From mild to wild: Everything to know about part 4 of state capture report

As if that was not enough, the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the country into a strict lockdown in 2020 also meant money needed to be spent wisely.

However, just a few months into the pandemic, there were already reports of corruption relating to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

A lot of the alleged corruption was being reported in Gauteng.

ALSO READ: PPE corruption report: Gauteng the worst offender

Is SA now a failed state?

Corruption in South Africa is not something new and in many instances, such acts of criminality also leave many citizens feeling the brunt of poor service delivery.

Many local municipalities remain under administration.

The Auditor General’s report in June this year, indicates only 16% of the country’s municipalities received clean audits – something which raised more concerns and questions about whether the country has now become a failed state.

NOW READ: Only 16% of SA’s municipalities get clean audits

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