Academics join the dots in state capture

A research work that is the first in a series entitled the Betrayal of the Promise.

A multi-disciplinary, inter-university research partnership has, under the banner of the State Capacity Research Project, culminated in the first of a series of papers that critically examines what we have come to know as the State of Capture. 

As the convenor of the project Mark Swilling explained, the name was inspired by a speech the ex-deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas (who attended the launch), gave a few months back entitled, The Betrayal of the Promise. 

In short, it is an academic appraisal of the “system” or “virus” that has been employed to extract rents from the state, with the president as the key facilitator. “Our core argument is that a silent coup has taken place,” says Swilling. “Decisions [relating to the functioning and administration of the government] are being taken without the consent of the ruling party. Mandela’s promise has been betrayed, and we are here to ‘connect the dots’.” 

One of the key thrusts of the report is the analysis of how state institutions have been “repurposed” to reward a political elite referred to as the “power elite”.

President Jacob Zuma sits at the head of the table, and his role has been to centralise the illegal  rent seeking and undertake a number of activities that strengthen the relationship between the constitutional state and the shadow state where families like the Guptas feature prominently, along with factions that include the Premier League led by Ace Magashule.

This de facto system of government  – deliberate and criminal in nature – was likened to a competing set of “kitchen cabinets” where “the most influential person is the one that last spoke to Zuma”. The president’s appointees are selected to do specific things – Malusi Gigaba for instance in his appointment as Minister of Public Enterprises before his tenure at Home Affairs, was sent to systematically erode the governance at state-owned entities so that Zuma’s cadre deployment (think Molefe and Anoj Singh at Transnet and Eskom) would be able to “prise open” opportunities to exploit control at these entities that had weakened institutional capacity. 

The exact role of the Guptas was not pinpointed, but they are variously described as “brokers” and “puppeteers”. There is also detail provided around how much money the Guptas and related entities have transferred out of the country. (It runs into hundreds of millions of US dollars.) 

One of the key findings in the report was how the proponents of Radical Economic Transformation increasingly view the Constitution as an impediment to carrying out the objectives of this movement. The more earnest and noble motivations underlying this movement have been hijacked by the power elite that use it as a disguise in which to carry on with their illegal rent extraction.  

There is much to chew on and sift through. And none of it is good. Access the report here.


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Article resonates with me. SOEs are in a state. One just has to look at SAA, Eskom, Prasa, and SABC. There exists dual governance at these institutions; one for the elite and the other for plebs.

There has been so many enquiries and reports into state capture, and all have proved the Gupta’s criminal and corruption activities!! So when are the arrest warrants coming out?? They are still wheeling and dealing in SA and I’m sure they haven’t mended their ways YET!! The public has to pay high electricity tarrifs because of Gupta greed and government and municipal maladministration!!

Thank you for the consideration of the authors. I have worked through this report. The key for me is: what can I do on a daily basis to eliminate the rot. Voting is not enough? This almost becomes a training document which will educate very SA to help in the process!

You can research, analyse and report as much as you want, for ever. But if no corrective action is taken, it’s meaningless.

100% correct.

Most of the talk/reports/studies are just hot air.

Most knew in 1992 that this is what SA would regress to. We hoped it would not. We voted yes when the USA, Canada, Ozz, NZ, nordic countries held a gun to our head.

They then ran away leaving us with a 100% guaranteed Efrica CUFU.

With all these smart and clever people who call themselves Academics, is there enough brains amount them to force Zuma out quickly, or to solicit enough support and cash together to have a Private Prosecution of this dreadful specimen of a President?

We have gone on public marches, just about every form of society have asked Zuma to step down.

Now we have an academic research report stating what we have all been seeing happening on a daily basis.

What can we do as a nation or individuals to save us from an impending implosion once the state has run out of funds?

Who can alter this course that we are on?

Good point – the average citizen (us, Joe public) can do very little other than march and publicly protest, which in itself is important. I strongly feel that in terms of formal and direct pressure it is up to the ‘opposition’ parties to pursue EVERY legal channel and then there are the civic organisations that can and should do the same.

Take for example the fact that it is now reported that Gerrie Nel is with Afriforum and that there are avenues for private (i.e. non-state) ‘prosecution’, or at least initiation of charges without waiting for the AG, who is in CLUELESS’ pocket, to do so. So let’s see Gerrie in action! Not that I agree with everything Afriforum does or says – but they do get a few things right.

What is mind-blowingly frustrating is that we have the 783 charges still hanging for so many years, we have a challenge to the State Of Capture report that has derailed progress on getting the Comm of Enquiry established and so much more in limbo. Surely, surely there are active and direct steps that can be pursued on each of these issues. We also have little in the way of main-stream media keeping the public up-to-date on all these matters (there should be a ‘Weekly Log’ of issues and progress / actions – once accumulated across all areas the list is staggeringly long). The main stream media would rather report’ad nauseam’ on how the ANC bigwigs keep vocalising how against CLUELESS they are and yet not challenge them on the lack of active measures on their part. All this does is keep attention away from what should be happening and how it is not.

The opposition parties and our civic societies need to step up more and in a co-ordinated and concerted fashion drive action. They too are want to spend too much time voicing objections and pandering to the media.

And now we have a group of Academics who have set the example of how to do things. They have come together and co-ordinated their efforts to produce an analysis of what is going on (can’t wait to read it). So – to the opposition parties (as an aside stop your in-fighting and fighting against each other) and civic societies – take this an as example of how to do things and move your butts, we are all depending on you guys!

Why does our vibrant business community not form/establish a TAXPAYERS UNION? All taxes to be held in a common account. All capital outflows can then be controlled and any nefarious financial activities can be given the middle finger.

Sorry to say , but without a Justice system that actually issue a “arrest warrant”, a Police system that actually adhere on that warrant, and again a Justice system that actually prosecute, all this is just talk and informative reading for us. Nothing will come from this, just as with Madonsela’s report, all just read and talk with absolutely no adherence to any, not even to concourt…SA been captured, and sold.

End of comments.



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