The State Capacity Research Project today released a new report, How One Word Can Change The Game: A Case Study Of State Capture And The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), which provides a rare detailed example of the mechanics and modus operandi of state capture.
Critically, it demonstrates that South Africa’s shadow state consists of more than just the Guptas, and that the state capture project extends far beyond just state-owned enterprises, infecting some of the most crucial functions of government. The report illustrates that state capture is not just a form of ‘grand corruption’ resulting in a financial loss to the state and taxpayer, but it is a political project that has had a direct negative impact on the poorest and most vulnerable in society.
Authored by Robyn Foley and Professor Mark Swilling from the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University, this case study is a follow-up to the groundbreaking academic study on state capture, Betrayal of the Promise, which was released by the State Capacity Research Group in March 2017 and which provided a conceptual framework for understanding the phenomenon of state capture under the Zuma administration.
Since then, there have been the Gupta-leaks, Parliament’s Eskom Inquiry and the launch of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. Zuma is no longer President, some Zuma-centred elite have been stripped of power. The Gupta’s are in hiding and Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise of a new dawn has many filled with hope of a new dawn.
The country now faces the immense task of unravelling and repairing the damage done by the Zuma-centred political project. The report seeks to contribute to this task by shedding light on how the shadow state operates and manoeuvres alongside and within formal government structures.
Co-author, Professor Mark Swilling says, “With the end of the Zuma era and the surrounding scandals seemingly fading fast from memory, we hope this case study can serve as a cautionary tale and reminder of where we have come from. But equally, if we are to truly enter a ‘new dawn’ for South Africa, it is now more important than ever to hold those involved to account and address the incapacity of state institutions. If this is not done, the tendency to bend and break the rules, and our democracy, will continue. ”
The report can be viewed here.