The January 2015 ANC NEC Lekgotla Statement, among others, says, “Lekgotla has emphasized the need to deploy skilled and qualified staff into key municipal posts, strengthen accountability and political management. To this end, the government is called upon to conduct a skills audit and remove those people who occupy positions they do not qualify for.1”
While the context of this part of the statement is primarily about municipal positions, it is common knowledge that there are areas of skills mismatch across all spheres of government.
This might very well be an overdue intervention by the ANC NEC and perhaps a glaringly obvious challenge that should have been avoided. However, the tactfulness of applying this principle retrospectively is yet to be apparent, particularly if the audit and removal of people will be implemented consistently throughout the country.
The significance of this discussion, more than the decision itself is that it lays the foundation for the future. The discussion documents for the ANCYL National Consultative Conference had focused mainly on the future. One of the principal questions haunting sections of the ANCYL leadership is, as the rightful heirs of the ANC, what kind of ANC are they going to inherit and what can be done today to make sure that, when the time comes, they are ready to take baton?
The ANCYL 25th National Congress Organisational Building Discussion Document posed more fundamental questions about the future. It said;
“The coming 25th National Congress of the ANCYL will in all likelihood reaffirm the incontestability of the birth of the ANCYL from the womb of the ANC. This reality, necessarily, means that the future of the ANCYL is inseparable from the future of the ANC. The question that the membership of the ANCYL must grapple with is whether it is possible to have a strong ANCYL within the predominantly weakened, divided and factionalised ANC and vice-versa. The ANC and its future therefore constitute the first critical uncertainty that will have a direct bearing on the future of the ANCYL.
103. Will the ANC govern for eternity? While the affirmative answer to this question is our collective desire as the movement, we certainly do not know. Let us assume that it does, will the state continue its current developmental trajectory or will it slide into predatory orientation, depending of the balance of contradictions within the movement, society and the globe? Should the ANC lose power, what do we re-perceive as its role in post-apartheid South Africa and subsequently that of the ANCYL? Will the loss of political power be merely a result of the growing disapproval of our mismanagement of public trust or will it also translate into the rejection of our transformative and developmental ideology?2
Formal education, on its own, is not a panacea to all the challenges facing South Africa today, and the challenges it will face in the future. However, as the January NEC Lekgotla has said, there is an urgent “the need to deploy skilled and qualified staff into key municipal posts, strengthen accountability and political management.” By so doing, we will avoid a “growing disapproval of our mismanagement of public trust” which if left unattended may lead to the loss of power.
Is there something that the ANCYL, and perhaps the ANC, can do today to make sure the ANC NEC Makgotlas of the future do not have to call upon government “to conduct a skills audit and remove those people who occupy positions they do not qualify for”? Meaning, are there any measures that can be implemented today to avoid people being employed/deployed in positions they do not qualify for?
The answer to this question is contained in the ANC 53rd National Conference Resolutions. In Mangaung, the ANC said,
“Conference resolves that the ANC and the Alliance should, collectively and individually, should pay urgent and systematic attention to the task of developing a contingent of cadres who have attributes that accord with the tasks of the national democratic revolution in the second phase. Accordingly, the Policy Conference further recommend(ed) that the 53rd National Conference should declare the next decade a Decade of the Cadre in which there will be a key focus on the ideological, political, academic and moral training of a critical mass of ANC members.
… Accordingly, ANC members should understand fully what it takes for a member to go through the full cycle of becoming and remaining a tried and tested cadre. It must be clear that joining the ANC is the beginning of a long journey towards becoming a cadre.
In the new phase of the NDR, deployment should always be preceded by systematic academic, ideological, and ethical training and political preparation. Cadre Deployment should be underpinned by a rigorous system of monitoring and evaluation of the performance of cadres deployed and elected to leadership positions. This will avoid a situation wherein leadership assessment and evaluation take place only in the run-up to conferences.
The ANC should adopt a programme to raise the level of literacy, education and skills among its members as part of the nation-wide campaign to make education and training a national priority.
Conference further instructs the incoming NEC to develop and implement programme to give effect to the next ten years being declared a Decade of the Cadre3”
The year 2015 is the start of the third year of “a Decade of the Cadre in which there will be a key focus on the ideological, political, academic and moral training of a critical mass of ANC members.” That means we are left with seven years before the “a Decade of the Cadre” ends.
Although I try to follow developments in the ANC as an ordinary branch member, I have no idea if there is, and how far is, the programme that “Conference further instruct(ed) the incoming NEC to develop and implement programme to give effect to the next ten years being declared a Decade of the Cadre.” I also have no idea who is responsible for it. Hopefully, the ANC NGC will shed some light on this matter in June 2015. That is if NGC will find time, in its busy schedule to attend to this important matter.
Without pointing fingers, if the remark above sounds like skepticism, that is because it is. The source of skepticism is that as early as 15 years ago, the ANC NGC in 2000 at Port Elizabeth said it would,
“Implement and expand our political school and a human resource programme, that ensures the continual reproduction of cadres in terms of political, ideological, cultural and moral training; academic and skills development to take on the diverse tasks of transformation (including expanding economic literacy) in a range of spheres of society and adapt the methodology and content of our political education to meet the challenges of the current phase4”
It would have been interesting to learn of the comments of the 25% of NEC members at the Lekgotla who were NEC members during the 2000 NGC, regarding the failure of implementation of this NGC resolution vis-à-vis the occupation of positions by people who are not qualified for them. They should share what obstacles they faced in implementing this resolution in the past 15 years. It would help the ANC overcome or avoid those obstacles in future.
This is to emphasise that resolutions are not enough. Actions have to be taken towards the realization of those resolutions. If there is no initiative by the leadership, the ANCYL has a duty to fulfill these resolutions because it is in its interest.
But even beyond the formal structures of the organisation, individual members who join the ANC must appreciate “that joining the ANC is the beginning of a long journey towards becoming a cadre.” Therefore there is no reason why members cannot take responsibility for their own personal development. Besides, the leaderships’ role would be to avail opportunities, members would still have to apply and study hard to earn the qualifications of their choice.
If no clear single point is derived from these voluminous multiple quotes, then here is the point of this text, at the ANC 56th National Conference in December 2022 we should adopt an ANC Constitution amendment that says, to qualify for election to the REC, and above structures, a cadre should have a minimum of an NQF 6 qualification from a University or an N6 from a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College or an equivalent qualification.
That ANC 56th National Conference is still 7 years away. That should give all ANC members enough time to study towards any undergraduate qualification of their choice. This should not be difficult because undergraduate certificates normally take 3 years, though some of us took as long as 12 years just to get a Diploma.
If the 56th National Conference does not adopt this constitutional amendment, the “Decade of the Cadre” will join other brilliant and revolutionary sounding ideas the ANC has previously adopted whose outcomes remain unknown.
Obviously, it would make sense if comrades focused on the skills that would be needed by the economy at the time as envisaged in various planning documents. In that way, cadre deployment or employment would be an easy exercise to manage.
Furthermore, if the country’s economy is able to grow at the levels that the planning documents aspire to and indeed job opportunities are available, having skilled cadres would lessen, hopefully, the (shrewd) competition for positions in political structures as cadres will be absorbed in the economy instead of seeing political leadership as a career.
Our inaction in this regard, both organizationally and individually, would mean that the cancer of incumbency would continue to eat away the organisation until the heirs inherit the shell of what used to be a glorious movement.
I am mindful of the limitations of access to education. But, for obvious reasons, that is a discussion for another day.
Article by Bayanda Mzoneli