The broad theme of the South African Communist Party’s (SACP’s) 14th National Congress this year was to discuss the party’s relationship with the ruling African National Congress, and whether the SACP should stand on its own in elections.

July 13th, the third day of the congress, saw reports delivered to the congress on state capture. Among these, PARI’s director, Ivor Chipkin, talked about ‘Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen’, a report produced by the State Capacity Research Project (SCRP), an interdisciplinary, inter-university research internship.

Chipkin’s talk provided the context for the SCRP to produce a report on state capture, and highlighted the salient features of the Betrayal of the Promise report.

“At the core of the argument in the paper is a periodisation of recent history:

1. We argue that the Polokwane moment represented a repudiation of Thabo Mbeki’s approach to the economy – in particular the idea that ‘white’ business could be pushed to ‘transform’ through black economic empowerment measures and affirmative action. This set off off a search for more ‘radical’ model of economic transformation. The ANC Youth League and then the EFF, for example, go the route of nationalisation.

2. Within in Economic Development Department and Department of Trade and Industry, however, other ideas are emerging, especially regarding the use of government procurement budgets, especially those in the state-owned enterprises, to displace traditional, white firms and to build new, black-owned and controlled industries. Malusi Gigabe is central to this approach and the first time that the term ‘radical economic transformation’ (RET) is mentioned, it is in this context. When he becomes Minister of Public Enterprises after Barbara Hogan, Brian Molefe is brought in as Chief Executive Officer of Transnet and then Eskom and massive new industrial projects are commissioned.

3. From about 2011/2012 the project of RET itself radicalises. Its protagonists come to believe that the project cannot be undertaken within the framework of the constitution and the law and increasingly move to extra-legal forms of procurement. We see this most dramatically at Eskom under Brian Molefe.

4. In this context of growing illegality, there is a move from 2014 to weaken and bring under political control key state institutions with investigative and prosecutorial functions, including SARS, the Hawks and the National Protection Agency. Political power starts shifting away from its formal institutional locations in the ANC, in government and in the cabinet. There is a growth of all sorts of ‘kitchen-cabinets’, including in inter-ministerial committees, frequent cabinet changes, informal networks and at Saxonwold, the home of the Guptas.

5. In this fluid and unstable environment, the project is increasingly hijacked by persons and groups with criminal intent. That is, the project of RET is criminalised.

6. There is a profound political and conceptiual conviction at the heart of these development. It is the idea that radical economic change is irreconcilable with the Constitution – certainly not a traditional position of the ANC and one more closely aligned with radical nationalists and the ‘ultra-left’. As this model of RET increasingly discredits itself – it threatens SA’s democracy, weakens the State and is ‘undevelopmental’ – so there is an opportunity to negotiate a new political pact premised on the reconciliation of democracy and development.”

Download the full report on our website http://pari.org.za/press-release-betrayal-promise/