President Jacob Zuma has presided over a “silent coup” under the cover of supposed radical economic transformation, researchers from the universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and Stellenbosch said this week.
Now that the evidence is available, the nation must “defend the founding promise of democracy … by doing all that is necessary to stop the systemic and institutionalised process of betrayal that is now in its final stage of execution. It is not too late,” they say.
Zuma’s presidency has gone beyond corruption, the academics argue in their collaborative work, Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen, and even goes beyond state capture.
The report says: “Commentators, opposition groups and ordinary South Africans underestimate Jacob Zuma, not simply because he is more brazen, wily and brutal than they expect but because they reduce him to caricature. They conceive of Zuma and his allies as a criminal network that has captured the state.”
In fact, Zuma has presided over a concerted political project to repurpose state institutions to channel money to a shadowy elite, they say.
The full report was not available at the time of going to print but it does make seemingly sweeping statements, including that “the project” was initiated with the support of the ANC. And the Gupta family, rather than being the corruptors of a once-pure state and ANC, is a symptom of the disease, they argue.
In their analysis the authors also conclude: “For Zuma and others around him, it was convenient to have a single clearing house where deals were brokered and financial transactions managed at a distance, especially if this clearing house was managed by non-South Africans with no loyalties to factions within the ANC.”
But it is Zuma’s abuse of power, they say, that enables the consolidation of power around him and that promotes strategies by which money is siphoned out of the public purse.
The researchers, from various disciplines, including economics, diplomacy, public affairs and complex systems, were funded by the Open Society Foundation, established by George Soros, both of which have been accused of trying to change governments in places such as Russia. This year, they have also been the target of campaigns by the American Republican Party and various far-right parties in Europe.
In coming months, the academics will be releasing a “succession of detailed case studies”, which will provide further evidence of a systemic betrayal of the country, the academics say.