Former state and governing African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma has dismissed the view that following the party’s elective conference in Polokwane in 2007, “battles” among factions within the party impacted, “encouraged”, and “entrenched nepotism and patronage” in the appointment of seniors at state-owned entities (SOEs).
Zuma was elected as party president at said conference, taking over leadership of the ANC from former president Thabo Mbeki.
This view was expressed by former public enterprises minister Barbara Hogan at the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Evidence leader at the commission advocate Paul Pretorius said on Zuma’s third day on the witness stand at the inquiry that Hogan had described the conference as “divisive” and had told the commission that the appointments of seniors in SOEs and government departments were done along patronage lines, with nepotism playing a factor, which she said had an adverse effect on these entities and the country’s economy.
Zuma told the commission: “It is not true that after Polokwane that people entrenched their own sides.”
The former president said there was proof that people from opposing political perspectives within the ANC were deployed to various senior positions.
Zuma said Hogan’s views on the ANC’s deployment processes were not accurate and would lead to a situation where “we will end up now discussing the ANC politics” at the commission.
On the third day at the commission, Zuma was responding to Hogan’s testimony before the inquiry which implicated the former president.
Hogan had previously expressed “firm views” at the commission about the ANC’s deployment committee, commenting on usefulness and effectiveness in the appointment of seniors either at SOEs, the appointment of board members of these entities and heads of government departments.
Hogan had told the commission that candidates for these positions were chosen by the committee based on their closeness to the ANC or any of its alliance partners or their membership to the governing party or factions within the organisation.
Zuma explained to the commission that the deployment committee was appointed by the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) and that the former structure was chaired by the party’s deputy president and ministers to ensure the structure had the institutional knowledge of government when considering candidates to be deployed to these positions.
The ANC’s incumbent president does not sit in the deployment committee but can share their ideas with its chair, Zuma said.
He added that the term of the deployment committee coincides with that of the NEC.
The former president further explained that those candidates picked by the deployment committee still had to undergo the recruitment process, which they could fail.
“The interest of the ANC is to ensure there are cadres who will implement the programmes appropriately,” Zuma said.
He added: “The deployment committee assists that process … it does not impose them … it is a discussion that takes place.”
Zuma said the deployment committee would consider candidates with the suitable skills and experience, who were loyal to the party and its policies, and would ensure these policies were implemented accordingly, which was a universal practice.
The former president said the deployment committee did not choose candidates based on friendships and factions but rather discussed the type of individuals sought for particular appointments.
The deployment committee carries out a thorough process when nominating these candidates, Zuma told the commission, adding that the final decision to appoint rested with relevant ministers.
Watch the proceedings live courtesy of the SABC: