AZAPO Voice Volume 4 Issue No 12

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Those in favour of cadre deployment may advance theoretical arguments about the potency of the policy as a mechanism to transform the State and ensure a smooth and effective implementation of policies developed by a ruling party. But we have seen the implementation of cadre deployment in practice. It was horrible.

Cadre deployment is the reason that the SABC was brought to its knees after it appointed among others a Chief Operations Officer who did not even have Matric. The deployment of politically connected comrades, who had neither experience nor skill, into senior positions in the different State-owned entities is a common denominator as the single cause of why many of the parastatals were nearly collapsed.

In local municipalities, political membership is the required qualification for appointment to run technical departments such was water and electricity while qualified engineers who do not have the right political membership card are ignored. The result is that at best the work is done by consultants, at huge cost to the ratepayers, and at worst residents have no regular supply of water and electricity.

The deployment of incapable cadres is not by accident. It is by design. When an unqualified cadre is appointed and he knows that his appointment is not on merit, he is beholden to those who effected the appointment. He then becomes a useful tool in the well-structured looting scheme. And because these incapable cadres have political cover, they are untouchable. They retain their top and well-paying positions regardless of their dismal performance.

But because those at the top have no managerial or leadership skills, service delivery suffers. Residents lack basic services such as water, roads and electricity despite the fact that there is money available to render these services.

If the government is committed to improving the quality of service, the first step would be to get rid of the cadre deployment policy and allow the best candidates for any position to be appointed on merit in an open and fair process.

The so-called revolutionary theory argument that “we need our people” to occupy strategic positions in the State to complete the last stage of the National Democratic Revolution is just a cover for corruption. After all, what is the definition of “our people”? Should the definition not include all South Africans and not just members of a particular political party?

 Cadre deployment policy has been abused to entrench the hegemony of the ruling party but more importantly as a catalyst for corruption and looting of State resources.


As one of the most prominent Pan Africanist revolutionaries, Kwame Touré has warned: we should never judge any system by its adherents but by its principles. He added that if you judge Christianity by Christians, you will never become a Christian.

Equally, it would be wrong to judge if cadre deployment is a good policy or not based on its implementation by the ruling party in South Africa.

Let us look at the principles of the policy. Firstly, there is nothing in cadre deployment that states that under-qualified and incapable candidates should be appointed. If some people opt to appoint cadres who do not qualify for their deployment, that is the weakness on the part of those doing the deployment but not the policy itself.

Secondly, the concept of cadre deployment emanates from the appreciation that when a political party wins an election, it must appoint bureaucrats who will implement its policies. This is not a Marxist inspired theory. Even liberal democracies such as the United States have this policy. However, the fact that the US has it as their policy does not necessarily mean that the policy is appropriate for South Africa.

But in the context of South Africa, the democratic State is only 29 years old. This is relatively young. The public service and the parastatals were designed to serve the white minority and to supress and oppress the Black majority. For instance, in the South African Police, the highest rank that a Black police officer could reach was a Sergeant. The entire top echelon of the police was white. The same situation prevailed in the South African Defence Force. After the dawn of democracy, this had to change. The ruling party had a revolutionary obligation to transform the State and make it resemble the demographics of South Africa.

It was logical that the ruling party should be interested in who becomes the Commissioner of Police and who becomes the Head of the Defence Force. Cadre deployment was a necessity. You could not just advertise the post of a Commissioner of Police and just open it and say the best candidate should get the job. Given that Black people had their careers stifled in the police force, it would been impossible to get a Black Sergeant to compete fairly with a white police General for the position of National Police Commissioner. In order to address this and to accelerate the rate of transformation, cadre deployment had to be used. It would have been irresponsible for the ruling party just to say let the best candidate get the job on merit when the playing field is not even.

The other reality is that cadre deployment is crucial to ensure the effective implementation of the policies of the party that won the election. Parties win elections on the basis of the promises they made to the electorate. In order to deliver on these promises, the winning party should be given the space to appoint key people in public service who will ensure the successful implementation of the policies of the winning party. It would be unfair to accuse the ruling party of not implementing its election manifesto when it is not allowed to appoint people who will ensure that those policies are implemented.

As a policy, there is nothing wrong with cadre deployment. In fact, there is no political party that can fight and win an election only to give governance to its political rivals through the so-called quest for the promotion of meritocracy.


In AZAPO, February 1 is Onkgopotse Abram Tiro Day. It was on this day in 1974 that the apartheid regime murdered Tiro by sending a letter bomb that exploded and blew up his skull in Gaborone, Botswana.

Tiro, one of the founding members of the Black Consciousness Movement, had fled to exile in Botswana following several attempts on his life in the country.

He had been expelled from the University of the North following a speech he had delivered during a graduation ceremony held on April 29, 1972. In that speech, Tiro attacked the government and its policies of giving Black people the inferior Bantu education.

Here are the extracts of the speech that led to his expulsion:

“We want a system of education which is common to all South Africans.”

“In theory Bantu Education gives our parents a say in our education but in practice the opposite is true. At this University, U. E D [University Education Diploma] students are forced to study Philosophy of Education through the medium of Afrikaans. When we want to know why, we are told that the senate has decided so. Apparently, this senate is our parents. Time and again I ask myself: How do Black lecturers contribute to the administration of this University? For if you look at all the committees, they are predominantly White if not completely White. Here and there one finds two or three Africans who, in the opinion of students are White Black men.”

“The Advisory Council is said to be representing our parents. How can it represent them when they have not elected it? These people must of necessity please the man who appointed them. “

“White students are given vacation jobs at this university when there are students who could not get their results due to outstanding fees. Why does the Administration not give these jobs to these students? These White students have 11 universities where they can get vacation jobs. Does the Administration expect me to get a vacation job at the University of Pretoria?”

“Right now, our parents have come all the way from their homes only to be locked outside. We are told that the hall is full. I do not accept the argument that there is no accommodation for them.”

“Front seats are given to people who cannot even cheer us. My father is seated there at the back. My dear people, shall we ever get a fair deal in this land? The land of our fathers. The system is failing.”

“My dear parents, these are injustices no normal student can tolerate—no matter who he is and where he comes from.”

“In the light of what has been said above, the challenge to every Black graduate in this country lies in the fact that the guilt of all wrongful actions in South Africa, restriction without trial, repugnant legislation, expulsions from schools, rests on all those who do not actively dissociate themselves from and work for the eradication of the system breeding such evils.”

“We Black graduates, by virtue of our age and academic standing are being called upon to bear greater responsibilities in the liberation of our people. Our so-called leaders have become the bolts of the same machine which is crushing us as a nation. We have to go back to them and educate them. Times are changing and we should change with them. The magic story of human achievement gives irrefutable proof that as soon as nationalism is awakened among the intelligentsia, it becomes the vanguard in the struggle against alien rule. Of what use will be your education if it is not linked with the entire continent of Africa, it is meaningless.”

Tiro meant what he said. After his expulsion from the University of the North, he worked as a teacher at Morris Isaacson. This is where he groomed leaders of the 1976 student revolt including Tsietsi Mashinini.

Tiro’s contribution to the liberation struggle is immeasurable. He planted a seed that germinated in Soweto, June 16. That was to be a turning point in our struggle for liberation. That is why the Azanian people shall forever remember the contribution that he made towards our liberation. 


The appointment of former AZAPO’s Head of Legal Secretariat Advocate Mojanku Gumbi to the United Nations should serve as an inspiration and great source of pride to all people in the country.

Cde Gumbi who has served the people of South Africa and the continent with honour and distinction will now offer her talents to the highest office in the globe, the office of the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.

A statement released by the UN announced the appointment of Cde Gumbi as Special Adviser to the Secretary General for addressing Racism in the Workplace.

According to the statement, Cde Gumbi will provide strategic advice to the Secretary General on addressing racism and racial discrimination, as well as oversee the implementation of the long-term Strategic Action Plan adopted by the Organization in 2022 to address racism in the workplace.

“Following the adoption of the Strategic Action Plan, every Secretariat entity was asked to develop and implement its own action plan, while an Implementation Steering Group under the leadership and stewardship of the Special Adviser will monitor and guide corporate level actions to implement the Strategic Action Plan.  An Anti-Racism Team has been established to support the Special Adviser,” added the statement. 

Cde Gumbi is currently Chancellor of the University of Venda, a position she was appointed to in 2020.  She is the founder of Mojanku Gumbi Advisory Services, a Johannesburg based business advisory firm.  From 2018 to 2019, she served as Ombudsman of the University of Johannesburg.  She was a Special Adviser to former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki from 1999 to 2008.  From 1994 to 1999, she was an Adviser to then Deputy President Mbeki in the Mandela Administration.  She was involved in peace-making initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Comoros, Sudan, Lesotho, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Iran and the Middle East.  Prior to serving in the Presidency, Cde Gumbi was an Attorney from 1984 and an Advocate from 1993.

Cde Gumbi, who joined the Black Consciousness Movement as a student at the University of the North, holds law degrees from the University of the North and Wits University. She also has a certificate in trial advocacy from the University of Texas in Austin.

We wish her well as she continues to advance the interests of Black people and the down-trodden throughout the globe.