In the article titled “The State Capture Debate: Limitations of Current Applications and Definitions” http://uncensoredopinion.co.za/the-state-capture-debate-limitations-of-current-applications-and-definitions/ the contributor in my own reading, delicately attempts to guide the reader, on what was not understood by the general populace about the reported state capture under the former President Jacob Zuma and also why another former President Thabo Mbeki erred in characterising this particular reported occurence as the “Zuma Phenomenon”.
The contributor in his article goes further to delicately attempt to join together all the post-democracy president’s terms to illustrate the original sin of state capture, which he must be commended for.
However, my attempt here is to put into context why the “Zuma phenomenon” was a state capture of a special kind.
The contributor will be aware of reported and confirmed allegations about how the Guptas took it upon themselves to announce cabinet reshuffles using their media platform, invited the people to their private compound in Saxonworld to brief these intended recipients of their employment to the government of South Africa. Equally the contributor will be alive to the televised parliamentary sessions where evidence was presented on how this particular family everywhere used the name of the then President to advance their fortunes especially with regard to state business.
All of these combined together with those not mentioned above, contributed to what was to headline newspapers as state capture. The contributor is correct to insinuate the fact that state capture must not be seen to have only found life or discovered with the Jacob Zuma presidency, however what the contributor fails to grasp is that state capture as reportedly fronted by the Gupta family under President Jacob Zuma did not only usurp the powers of the president but the privilege of the president to exercise his prerogative to appoint and dismiss any member of his executive. It can be argued as a fact that any public authority delegated or borrowed to any private individuals not elected or mandated by the public to exercise such powers on their behalf is tantamount to rendering that public authority an authority of those private individuals.
On the other issue raised by the former president Thabo Mbeki about the “Zuma Phenomenon”, if one was to watch the video and simply listen with an ear to fully understand the message relayed in that interview, it is quite clear that the former president did not attempt to allege that corruption began and ended with the office term of President Jacob Zuma. In the interview President Mbeki goes to great lengths to describe how the “Zuma Phenomenon” was not an individual phenomenon, he further illustrated how since 1994 they had always been aware about how members of the ANC, old and new, always aspired to use the ANC to amass personal wealth using the ANC as a vehicle to achieve this. What must be emphasised is that state capture in any form or content has always been a party resolutions talk, corridor talks and dinner table talks that was never ever given the necessary attention which has happened now. Nowhere in that interview did President Mbeki absolve any post-democracy presidency as corruption free, rather he said during the presidency of Jacob Zuma it was entrenched to a point where a family appropriated to themselves public power protected and guaranteed by the constitution.
The response to this article is in no-way attempting to take away some of the known truths about the history of corruption, state capture and the criminality that happened pre-1994. All of these hideous crimes need to be accounted for and all of us as active citizens must always advocate for justice. However, what we must not attempt to do is to wash the sins of the new democratic leaders in our midst with the sins of the old apartheid leaders. As a nation we deserve better and must demand the best, our public discourse must be full of ideas and contestations which are progressive in nature and developmental in character to repair our nation and empower our society.
Any form of state capture is bad, to attempt to characterise this phenomenon wherever it rears it’s ugly head as a light state capture or a heavy state capture is to simply put different shades of colour to swindle the public in seeing what is really state capture. State Capture by any person is wrong for all the citizens of any country. It wrongs the well=being of the nation, it denies society the prosperity it deserves and denies them the ability to live out their best possible lives. State capture steals from the poor of the poorest. It marginalises, extremely, the already marginalised and denies the people their power to hold the government of their choice to account.
The ANC to whom many of us have pledged loyalty to has taught us to promote the well-being of the nation and jealously guard against any injustices against our people.
Themba Vryman is an ANC member in Ward 20 Bloemfontein, he writes in his personal capacity.