Today, 27 October, during a media briefing, DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration, Dr Leon Schreiber MP announced the following policy breakthrough. Also find attached Afrikaans and English soundbites by Dr Leon Schreiber MP, with pictures here, here and here.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) today announces that, for the first time in our democratic history, the South African Cabinet has adopted a policy of the DA as official government policy in an area that is fundamental to our country’s survival and future. The National Framework towards the Professionalisation of the Public Sector, which was approved by Cabinet on 19 October 2022, has wholesale adopted the DA’s policy to abolish cadre deployment and replace it with merit-based appointments throughout the public sector.
As the highest executive decision-making body in the country, Cabinet’s adoption of the Framework means that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has accepted the DA’s merit-based appointment policy as the only way we can begin to fix our country’s crippled and corrupt public sector. Following its adoption by Cabinet, the Framework now becomes the highest policy directive governing public administration in the country, which means that all other legislative and policy decisions in the public sector will need to be amended to enforce its abolition of cadre deployment. The DA will fight tooth and nail to ensure that this happens in every sphere and in every institution of government.
In an unambiguous reference to the tireless work done by the DA to sensitise and expose to the public the way in which ANC cadre deployment laid the foundation for corruption and state capture, the Framework admits that “Recruitment and selection practices based on deployment have gained notoriety which has spawned cynicism.” The policy acknowledges that the DA’s work to expose this form of systemic ANC corruption created “a surging negative public perception about employment practices in the public service.”
In another clear reference to the DA’s ongoing court case to declare cadre deployment corruption unconstitutional and unlawful, the Framework makes the extraordinary admission that “Some even question [the constitutionality of cadre deployment] related to the principle of equality, and they may have a point if deployment practices are to be looked at from the perspective of Section 197 (3) of the Constitution, which states that ‘no employee of the Public Service may be favoured or prejudiced only because that person supports a particular political party or cause.’” This is the exact constitutional clause upon which the DA has built a part of our legal case. This spectacular admission by the ANC government, endorsed by the ANC Cabinet, confirms the DA’s case that ANC cadre deployment is unconstitutional.
As a direct consequence of the DA’s ceaseless efforts to generate public pressure against ANC cadre deployment corruption, the Framework stipulates that “deployment practices ought to be ditched in favour of a merit-based recruitment and selection system, which [is] key to building a capable, ethical and developmental state.”
In emphasising a point that the DA has made throughout our ground-breaking campaign against cadre deployment, the Framework notes that “Other countries have a position similar to that of a DG or HOD which is termed a permanent secretary, who is always politically non-partisan…In a merit-based system of recruitment and selection, well-qualified candidates with capability to perform a public function would still make it anyway without any political shore up.”
Now that the DA has won the battle at the level of superior ideas and policy, we are redoubling our efforts in the legal battle and opening a whole new front to force the implementation of what is now official government policy to abolish cadre deployment. We are not naïve about the challenge that still lies ahead as we ensure, from the opposition benches for now, that this DA policy is implemented across government. But with DA policy now being government policy, it is clear that the dam wall is leaking. To make sure that the wall breaks and collapses completely, the DA will:
- On the legal front, urgently write to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting him to rescind his earlier decision to oppose the DA’s court application to abolish cadre deployment. The reality is that his own Cabinet has now endorsed the DA’s legal position that cadre deployment must be “ditched.” It is therefore hypocritical and completely untenable for Ramaphosa and his Cabinet to continue opposing our court case. The fact is that “ditching” cadre deployment is now official government policy taken straight out of the DA manifesto. This means that our court case to uproot this practice becomes, in fact, an effort to implement the government’s newest policy. It is a legal absurdity for the President to oppose his own government’s policy. The President’s hypocrisy on the issue of cadre deployment has backed him into a corner. He now faces a stark choice. He either chooses to implement this DA policy in the interests of the country. If this is his choice, then he will drop his opposition to our court case. Alternatively, he continues to defend cadre deployment in court in violation of his own government’s new policy. If this is his choice, we will know that he has chosen the corruption of his party over the needs of our country. We will know that he is incapable of implementing the policy solutions South Africa needs.
- On the new implementation front that our policy victory has now opened up, the DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting her to urgently refer the DA’s End Cadre Deployment Bill back to the portfolio committee on public service and administration. The ANC in this committee earlier rejected the DA’s bill. But that was before the “ditching” of cadre deployment became official government policy. It is in the interest of the public that the portfolio committee reconsiders this bill in the context of DA policy now being government policy. We will also be conducting a comprehensive review of all public sector laws in order to introduce legal amendments to outlaw cadre deployment across the state. The days of the ANC simply rejecting these proposals are over, because they will now be compelled by their own policy framework to implement DA proposals against cadre deployment.
The formal adoption of the DA’s policy against cadre deployment by Cabinet constitutes the single most significant public policy breakthrough for South Africa since 1994. It is without precedent in our democratic history for the ANC national government to ditch its long-held defense of cadre deployment in favour of the wholesale adoption of DA policy in an area of such fundamental significance.
This breakthrough signifies that, while other political parties are caught up in the politics of empty spectacle, the DA is seriously engaged with, and winning, the battle of ideas. This moment marks a potential turning point for our country, as it demonstrates that even the ANC now accepts that the DA’s superior policies and ideas are ready to govern.
The question, however, is whether the ANC can ever be trusted to implement this DA policy. I have my doubts. After all, if the ANC wants DA policy to be implemented, then they should surely make way for the DA to become the government?
Nevertheless, between now and 2024, the DA will apply the same vigour, energy and relentlessness that caused us to win the policy battle to finishing off ANC cadre deployment in court, and to force the government to implement its new policy to “ditch” cadre deployment. All of this we will do to lay the foundation ahead of the 2024 election, when the DA will carry the policy solutions we need to fix South Africa into a new national government.