New state capture report launched at Wits

2017-05-25 21:21


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Johannesburg - The need for drastic economic reform cannot justify the widespread looting of state coffers, while the current state capture networks active in South Africa pose a dire threat to the country's long-term future.

These were some of the sentiments shared by a group of academics gathered at the Wits Business School in Johannesburg on Thursday, where the State Capacity Research Project (SCRP) launched a scathing report on state capture and other problems currently facing South Africa and the ruling ANC.

The report, titled Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is being stolen, is the result of a collaborative effort involving nine researchers from a range of local universities. The report is an academically-centered research paper that details how the likes of the powerful Gupta family have effectively hijacked key government institutions and state owned companies (SOC's).

"We agree with the intentions of the governing party’s commitment to ‘radical economic transformation’, but in our view this is being used as an ideological smokescreen to mask the rent-seeking practices of the Zuma-centred power elite," the report's authors state in the document's preface. 

A selection of the report's contributors, along with Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib and other academics, addressed a packed lecture hall at the Wits Business School at the report's official launch. Some of the academics did not hold back when it came to identifying the perpetrators and enablers of state capture and corruption in South Africa.

"There have been calls for us to give Malusi Gigaba a chance as the new finance minister. But the collapse of the state owned entities that we experience now is his work,” said Prof. Mzukisi Qobo, a member of the South African research chair programme on African diplomacy and foreign policy at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

Qobo was referring to Gigaba's earlier stint as minister of public enterprises, a tenure that saw the Guptas land some of their first large deals at SOC's such as Transnet. 

Sithembile Mbete, a lecturer at the University of Pretoria's (UP) department of political sciences, claimed that the tentacles of state capture reaches so deep into the core of the ruling party and the government that only drastic changes on the political landscape could save South Africa from predatory rent-seekers such as the Guptas.

"As a country we've outgrown the ANC. South Africa needs a new moral and ethical center that is not Luthuli House," said Mbete.

Download the full Betrayal of the Promise report here


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