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Editorial: Definition of state capture

State capture, noun: The efforts of a small number of people aiming to benefit from the illicit provision of private gains to public officials in order to profit from the workings of a government.

The power to appoint Cabinet ministers and the boards of state-owned enterprises comes standard.

It is evidenced in South Africa in the actions of members of the Gupta family of Saxonwold, Johannesburg. It is documented widely in the news that this family has amassed a fortune through businesses that have, at various times, intersected with the state — for example, the decimation of the state-owned power utility, Eskom, through a series of deals aimed principally to directly and indirectly benefit the Gupta family and their associates.

It is also evidenced in the inability of Eskom to do its job of providing safe, affordable, reliable electricity to all of South Africa.

More recently, it is evidenced in the testimony of Government Communication and Information System staff, who showed that the North West and Free State governments continued to direct millions of rands to the remnants of the Gupta media empire, which concluded the state’s R600-million advertising spend with the Gupta-owned media assets.

It is also evidenced in the rapid naturalisation of Gupta associates, particularly Ashu Chawla, who not only caught the express train (obviously not run by the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa) to a South African ID but also managed to pose for an ID document wearing shades.

Caveat lector: Former president Jacob Zuma says state capture is political hocus pocus.

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