Leaders weigh in on ‘pornographic’ levels of state capture in SA

ANC members protesting outside the party's NEC meeting at the weekend. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

ANC members protesting outside the party's NEC meeting at the weekend. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The abysmal extent of state capture by corporate entities and wealthy individuals in South Africa sparked the ongoing calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down, policy analyst Professor Lucky Mathebula said on Wednesday.

“It might be happening in other countries, in the same way it is happening in South Africa, but not in the pornographic levels we see in South Africa,” Mathebula said at a seminar on state capture hosted by the SA Association of Public Administration and Management in Pretoria.

“We all do certain private things in the bedrooms but we are not pornographic about it. The reaction of our society, I think it is because of the clear pornography of this state capture. That is why we hear calls of the removal of the president and regime change.”

Political analyst, Professor Tinyiko Maluleka said state capture happened gradually.

“State capture is insidious.
It happens informally, it may take a long time until we all share the same understanding. A policeman on the street doesn’t need to tell you to give him money. He tells you that you know, and you do know when he says that. The idea that two or three people capture the state one day is useless,” said Maluleka.

‘This is kleptocracy’
Another panelist, former African National Congress Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola said state capture could not be narrowed to corruption alone.

“I can hear the professor (Maluleka) is trying to narrow it to corruption. This is about democracy in this country where unelected people are able to influence the decision to appoint ministers. An unelected family is able to deal with serious issues that are only given to a particular person in terms of the Constitution,” said Lamola.

“This is kleptocracy where a few elites are able to control and direct the state, a serious subversion of democracy. I think that is what we are dealing with today as a country. That is not in the interest of the majority who are continually voting. Why do we need elections when there is a family that is going to decide for us.”

Former parliamentarian Andile Mngxitama said the notion of state capture was being abused.

“This is an abused concept concocted in London by the controllers of the South African economy, given to agents in the opposition parties. What we are dealing with here is contestation, not so much over the state, but the economy. White capital is worried about the Guptas because they are moving into the mining sector,” said Mngxitama.

“They (white capital) organise some rogue elements in the political system to chase the Gupta family so that they are out of competition. White capital hires and fires ministers. The Guptas are trying and failing.”

Last weekend, the ANC’s highest structure, the national executive committee went into its scheduled meeting following a turbulent week for the ruling party.

Among others, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by confirming reports that the wealthy and influential Gupta family, closely linked to President Zuma, had approached him to take over as finance minister a few days before Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene from the post.

However, on Thursday, Zuma told Parliament that the Gupta family had never appointed any Cabinet minister.

“There is no minister who is here who was ever appointed by the Guptas or by anybody else,” he told the National Assembly.

Also last week, former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor said Zuma was present several years ago when the Guptas offered her the post of public enterprises minister, held at the time by Barbara Hogan.

On Sunday, the Sunday Times reported that former Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) chief executive Themba Maseko had directly implicated Zuma in a push to give government business to the Gupta family.

The newspaper reported that Maseko was called by Zuma prior to a meeting with the Guptas in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, and asked to “help them”.

At the meeting, Ajay Gupta wanted government advertising to be channelled to The New Age newspaper. According to the newspaper, Gupta also reportedly said: “… tell us where the money is and tell departments to give you money; if they refuse we will deal with them. If you have a problem with any department, we will summon ministers here.”

The events have sparked discussions on social networks by South Africans under the viral hashtag #StateCapture. - African News Agency

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