ANC MUST REFORM ITS DEPLOYMENT POLICIES

THE mismanagement of the ANC's policy of redeployment, by which cadres are specifically put into leadership positions in the party, government and business, is at the heart of many incidents of internal party fights, service delivery failures and corruption in the public service.

THE mismanagement of the ANC's policy of redeployment, by which cadres are specifically put into leadership positions in the party, government and business, is at the heart of many incidents of internal party fights, service delivery failures and corruption in the public service.

Ahead of the ANC's 2002 conference in Stellenbosch, former general secretary Kgalema Motlanthe handed over to senior leaders the findings of a damning internal ANC assessment of the party's policy of deployment.

The report concluded that the policy of deployment and the deployment committees responsible for it had degenerated into jobs for pals, pork-barrelling and a means to sideline political rivals through demotion and purges. Since then, there has been no action on the report's findings.

It is crucial for the ANC to reform the internal workings and organisational structure of the party, to make it internally democratic, bring in more accountability and root out mismanagement, corruption and tribalism, as part of a thorough modernisation of the movement.

Unless this is done the problems of corruption, mismanagement, slack service delivery will continue.

In fact, the ANC's long-term viability as a dominant political force is resting on President Jacob Zuma speedily moving to clean-up the internal organisation of the ANC.

Channelling extra money to poorly performing national government and provincial departments, municipalities and parastatals will come to nothing, unless the internal culture and operations of the ANC itself is democratised.

Accountability must be brought into the relationship between the party structures, leadership and their equivalent government structures.

Former speaker of parliament Frene Ginwala was right when she said there exists little organisational mechanisms to make those elected to government on an ANC slate accountable.

The ANC, like many African independence and liberation movements, share some internal organisational, ideological and political cultures that may have made them very effective anti-colonial or anti-apartheid campaigners, but which makes it difficult for them to pursue democratic governance - building quality democracies, ethnically inclusive societies and equitable economies, unless they modernise themselves the moment they are in power.

Introducing reforms to democratise the internal operations of the ANC is not going to be easy. There are many vested interests that are benefiting from the disarray within the ANC, who will oppose reforms.

Yet, pressing through with internal reform is absolutely necessary to renew the ANC, infuse the party, and by extension, the country with a new spirit of accountability, and new ideas and energy.

The best solution now is for Zuma to set up a special commission, staffed with nonpartisan party and outside experts, to make proposals to restructure the internal operations of the ANC. One reform that is absolute necessary is to shake-up the policy of redeployment, and the whole system of deployment committees.

The only way really that the concept of deployment (if it is not scrapped) can work, is if deployment committees were staffed with the most nonpartisan members, who act in the broadest public interests.

If ANC deployment committees are to remain, their mandates must also change then.

A new mandate must be to specifically recruit highly competent South Africans, whether inside the country or abroad, and whether they are ANC members or not - whose skills are currently overlooked, for deployment to critical jobs in the public sector.

lGumede is the author of Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANC.

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