The existence of corporate state capture in a capitalist society and prospects for change

By Tiisetso ‘Afrika’ Makhele

In its watershed meeting held from the 26th until the 28th May 2017, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC made some important decisions which I believe need to be celebrated. Firstly, the NEC instructed its deployees in government to rescind some of the decisions that were made outside of the organisational structures, like the melancholic re-appointment of Brian Molefe as ESKOM Group Chief Executive. This should be commended.

Secondly, the NEC instructed that the Terms of Reference of the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture must be “broad enough to uncover the influence of business on the state”. When answering calls from journalists during the post-NEC media briefing, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe emphasised that the NEC felt that the enquiry into state capture must go as far back as 1994, where possible.

By taking this decision, the ANC showed that it remains leader of society. Any serious leader must have enough information before arriving at a sensible decision. So for the ANC to arrive at a conclusion that ours is a captures state, the party needs to have as much information as possible. This is to eliminate all doubts that some may be used as scapegoats, or that others may be deliberately shifting our focus from the real state capturers, if any.

South Africa, like most nation states in the world, is predominantly a capitalist society. In capitalist states, a ‘pro-business climate’ is one of the most fervently pursued goals. This results in most states adopting policies and making decisions which are biased to business, and which are not likely to irritate the markets, cause currency depreciations or triggers credit downgrades. Some political economists argue that this amounts to the state of capture by the markets.

We are inspired by the energy portrayed by some media houses in uncovering emails and other forms of communication that may point to corporate state capture. Whilst the relevant authorities are investigating the authenticity, legality and other aspects of the emails, we must encourage, and even provide financial support to investigative entities like Amabhungane to dig deeper into the possible influence of capital on the state.

We must encourage those bodies, including the Public Protector, academics, etc, to uncover how, for example, Eskom purchases 80% of its coal volumes from 5 companies; Exxaro, Anglo American, BHB Billiton, Xstrata Coal and Glencore. The Amabhungane must assist us to understand what led to some of these companies refusing to comply with the requirement by Eskom that companies supplying coal to the utility be at least 50% plus one Black-owned.

Whilst we are awaiting the Judicial Commission of Enquiry on State Capture we can but wonder; what is the extent of State Capture in South Africa? Have the Guptas really captured the state and, if so, what is the extent of the capture? What is the relationship between white monopoly capital and the state? Do we have prospects to demolish any form of state capture or must we crush all forms of monopolies and oligopolies and, ultimately, capitalism?

Whilst I do not have answers to all these questions, one thing is certain; oligopolies and monopolies are not good for the people. This is not only because they collude on prices and rip our people off, because of their uncontrollable greed, but also because they are likely to bulldoze the state machinery through buying public representatives to make decisions which benefit them, and not the people. In its path towards a National Democratic Society, ANC and its allies must be obsessed with crushing all forms of monopolies and adopt a more radical, popular, and fair economic system.

Makhele is an ANC member and Spokesperson to Free State Premier Hon. Ace Magashule. He writes in his personal capacity

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  1. How can the Guptas capture such a fiercely contested territory like the State alone.
    Have they defeated and conquered the WMC which has been capturing the State for ages? If no. Why is the WMC as a whole which is very corrupt (look at the cases of price fixing uncovered by the competition commission) not investigated.
    I agree with Comrade Tiisetso that the ANC is still very relevant to liberate this country economically, but, if the greed especially from the Alliance Partners which have proven to be nothing but a WMC captured click which seems only interested in Government Positions does not STOP, The ANC will be defeated.

  2. Viva comrade Tiisetso. I’m with you on a broader investigation on state capture. Other investigations i.e. absa and other finance houses which were fingered by the CIEX report must be done , completed and action be taken.

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