President Cyril Ramaphosa told the inquiry that there were instances where critical appointments were made in the government which did not go through the ANC’s deployment committee.
Johannesburg – As the leader of the ANC, President Cyril Ramaphosa will return for a second day at the state capture inquiry on Thursday following a day of testimony that shed light on the ANC’s cadre deployment strategy.
Ramaphosa’s much-anticipated appearance at the Zondo Commission took place on Wednesday. It was the first of several appearances expected from him, which will cover his positions as ANC leader, his time as deputy president and his role as president of the country.
Ramaphosa told the inquiry that there were instances where critical appointments were made in the government, during president Jacob Zuma’s administration, which did not go through the ANC’s deployment committee.
He was the chair of the ANC’s deployment committee as deputy president of the party from 2013 to 2017. He explained that the committee makes recommendations for government appointments, but the final decision is made by the government.
“There were times (when) the committee was bypassed,” said Ramaphosa, referring to Zuma’s appointments.
He told the inquiry that when this happened, he approached Zuma on the issue.
“It has happened when I was the chair that some deployments were finalised without reference to the committee. On those occasions, I would go to the president (Zuma) and say you have short-changed me,” he said.
The commission also heard an example of when Ramaphosa had also bypassed the deployment committee when he made critical appointments in the government.
“In finalising certain appointments, I bypassed the committee and I went to deputy president Mabuza and said I finalised these appointments without consideration and said I would like to apologise. I said I’m even prepared to come to the committee and explain myself, and I did,” Ramaphosa explained.
Earlier in the day, Ramaphosa was asked about the consequences of the ANC’s deployment strategy.
The party has been criticised for of the quality of appointments where some of those appointed lacked skills and qualifications.
Advocate Paul Pretorius, the evidence leader, read out an excerpt of a commentary that criticised the ANC’s deployment strategy as being marred by careerism and factionalism.
Ramaphosa conceded that this was true in certain circumstances and attributed it to the ANC being a “living” organisation that was affected by divisions.
“It is the truth, we have had to deal with these issues, careerism opportunism and factionalism. And some of these deployments have caused a ruckus in the ANC because we are a living organisation. In the end, we have to manage all of that.
“Factionalism arises because members of the organisation would have different perspective and interests.”
On a comment by former minister and ANC member Barbara Hogan that the party no longer needed a deployment system, Ramaphosa disagreed, saying it was needed now more than ever.
The president said “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” was not a solution and that the committee could still make great contributions to the ANC. He said it should be recommending people who are fit, who know their craft and would not be captured.
Ramaphosa said ideally the deployment committee could be envisioned to serve as a filter to ensure people who are not fit for office do not get appointed in public positions.
In defence of the committee, Ramaphosa said the committee was diverse with people with broad knowledge of labour and other critical areas.
“We need to ensure that capture of the state does not happen again, we need to keep our eye in ensuring that it is not executed,” Ramaphosa said.