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State capture and the failure to deconstruct apartheid’s shadow state

By BO Staff Writer

Earlier this year, a group of academics from different universities formed a research unit whose first research report focused on looking into “state capture” and the role the Guptas and President Jacob Zuma play in facilitating it. The research unit, called the State Capacity Research Project (SCRP), released a report of their research findings, which showed, according to them, that the state has been “captured” by the Guptas.

In June, a month after the SCRP report was released, a sharp and scathing response to the SCRP report was written by Rhodes University politics lecturer, Wesley Seale.

In the introduction, Seale points out that, “[w]hat is not surprising is that a group of academics would jump onto the ‘state capture’ band-wagon. It is explicitly such, jumping on a bandwagon, because, as pointed out, there is no theoretical interrogation of the concept itself. Readers of the report are given a bland definition of what ‘state capture’ is and the deduction made is that the Gupta family sits at the heart of this phenomenon. Criticising the Guptas, Jacob Zuma and his supporters is in vogue and so it is unsurprising that these academics would have received the funding they did, from the funders mentioned and not mentioned, to pursue this project.”

The response analyses the current political landscape in South Africa while paying much needed attention to the often omitted historical aspect of it. Seale does the much needed work of not only looking into the political culture of South Africa and how it shapes our understanding of ‘state capture’, he also gives stunning critiques of the South African media and Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.

Seale’s response to the SCRP report is necessary, informative and well researched. Download and read the full response paper below:

State capture and the failure to deconstruct apartheid’s shadow state.

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