South Africa

ANC policy generates systemic failure – professor

The African National Congress’ (ANC) cadre deployment policy generates systemic failures of government, which are now having a cascading effect on the country’s economy. 

This is feedback from the chair of Social Security Systems Administration and Management Studies at Wits, Professor Alex van den Heever. 

Van den Heever told Newzroom Afrika that the argument made by academics at The Growth Lab at Harvard University was fundamentally correct in assessing the structural constraints on the South African economy. 

Principal among these constraints was the ANC’s cadre deployment policy, which deploys party loyalists to posts within the country’s public service. 

“The problem with the cadre deployment policy and the way in which the BEE framework has been handled is that it generates systemic failures of governance. These systemic failures do not just go away,” Van den Heever said. 

The governance failures have significant knock-on effects on the country’s economy, with some estimating that South Africa has lost between 30% and 40% of its potential GDP from these policies. 

“Much of our unemployment and inequality can be explained by these policies. Cadre deployment as a policy itself does not fit in the South African context and the South African Constitution,” Van den Heever said. 

The Professor emphasised that what has been implemented does not genuinely empower people. Instead, it created middlemen that do very little and add no value to society or the economy. 

These middlemen magnify the cost of basic services for no added benefit to the consumer and wider society. 

If services are rendered, they are often over budget and only after significant delays.

“It has essentially been driven by individuals who have tried to divert funds to themselves and friends rather than to develop South Africa.”

“You cannot create these loopholes and gaps in the public service and state to pursue that goal.”

The most important factor needed to make the South African economy more inclusive is not a simplistic model to push transformation – it is economic growth. 

“What we needed to do is expand the economy. In expanding the economy, we will have systemic transformation across the country,” Van den Heever said. 

“What we have done instead is destroy value, wholesale. It is really putting the whole of South African society at risk.”


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