Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has described the ANC’s cadre deployment policy as unconstitutional and illegal, but appealing to the court he leads is now the ruling party’s last hope of keeping its records about that policy secret.
On Monday, two Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judges found the ANC’s attempt to appeal the Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) ruling delivered by Gauteng High Court Judge Willem Wepener had “no reasonable prospects of success” and dismissed it with costs. (The ruling party had filed that petition to the SCA in June, on the day it was ordered to hand over its cadre deployment records).
SCA Judge Wendy Hughes and Acting Judge Glenn Goosen also concluded there was “no other compelling reason while an appeal should be heard in the case” and roundly rejected ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s argument the ANC’s “constitutional rights to privacy, equality, and dignity have been infringed” by Wepener’s decision.
Mbalula had also slammed Wepener for dismissing the ANC’s application to appeal his ruling with costs, on the basis the party had no chance of succeeding in its appeal.
The SCA has effectively confirmed the correctness of the judge’s assessment.
Should the ANC now not attempt to appeal to the Constitutional Court, the ruling that gives it five days to hand its cadre deployment records over to the DA will stand.
In a statement, ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri said it “noted the outcome of its Supreme Court application to appeal a judgment on cadre deployment”.
“Given the issue’s importance, the ANC will take time to consider its new legal route,” she added.
The Wepener ruling compels the ANC to hand over meeting minutes, WhatsApp conversations, email threads, CVs, and all other records of the ANC deployment committee since 1 January 2013 when President Cyril Ramaphosa became its chairperson.
In a statement released shortly after the SCA dismissed the ANC’s appeal, the DA’s spokesperson on public service and administration, Dr Leon Schreiber, said the SCA had “vindicated the DA’s long-held position that it is illegal for the ANC to hide the way in which it interferes in appointments to the public administration in government departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises”.
Schreiber contended the ANC’s cadre deployment policy was aimed at ensuring only deployees loyal to the ruling party “are appointed to positions of power in the public sector”.
As a result, he said, “skilled and meritorious applicants are sidelined, with positions reserved on the basis of loyalty to the ANC”.
“This is why the DA has long held that cadre deployment is the root cause of state capture, lack of skills, and service delivery collapse in our country.”
The DA has firmly established the ANC’s cadre deployment policy as one of its primary political targets.
In addition to seeking records that could confirm who the party sought to appoint to pivotal positions in state institutions, the DA is also seeking an order declaring the policy unconstitutional and unlawful.