ANC blames broken laptop for losing five years of cadre deployment records

The African National Congress (ANC) says a broken laptop is to blame for failing to hand over records and documents relating to its cadre deployment committee meetings between 2012 and 2018, Sunday Times reports.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the laptop of an official in the deputy secretary’s office had crashed in June and that he had deleted emails that likely contained data over the year.

“Mr Thapelo Masilela (strategic support manager: deputy secretary-general’s office) confirmed that some information in respect to the committee had unfortunately been lost when his laptop crashed,” said Mbalula.

Masilela also deleted numerous emails likely related to the committee throughout 2023 to free up space in his inbox.

He reiterated these reasons in an affidavit to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“During 2023, my personal email, which I used for the deployment committee, was full,” said Masilela.

“In an attempt to free up space, I sorted sent emails by size and deleted the majority of the big files. A number of emails which relate to the deployment committee were included.”

Regarding his crashed laptop, Masilela said he unsuccessfully tried to recover data from its hard drive on multiple occasions.

“Therefore, I do not have in my possession any other information for the period in question other than what appears in the affidavit to which this affidavit is annexed,” he said.

Mbalula also explained that no meeting minutes were kept between 2012 and 2018.

Leon Schreiber, DA spokesperson for the Public Service and Administration government portfolio

However, this contradicts what is said in the minutes of the committee’s first meeting in 2019, in which it says the previous meeting’s minutes were approved.

The DA says these records and documents could contain critical information about several ANC cadres deployed to state-owned entities while Jacob Zuma was president to facilitate state capture.

The ANC was ordered to hand over the records and documents to DA MP Leon Schreiber. The constitutional court gave the ANC five business days to do so.

“This ruling will ensure transparency, by forcing the ANC to reveal how Ramaphosa’s cadre committee laid the foundation for state capture by interfering in public appointment processes,” said Schreiber.

“The case is also of historic significance in the ongoing battle against state capture,” he added.

Schreiber first lodged a Promotion of Access to Information Act request in 2021.

During the Commission on State Capture in 2021, some records from the deployment committee between 2018 and 2021 were presented. However, the ANC said it could not find the committee minutes from December 2012 to December 2017.

In a statement, the ANC said it had done “everything in its power” to find the records and that it “will hand over all records that have been found and give an explanation regarding those records which either do not exist or have not been able to be found”.

It also concealed the names and other information relating to cadre deployments, which it said was done to protect the personal information of those who did not consent to their data being disclosed.

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ANC blames broken laptop for losing five years of cadre deployment records