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  • Ivor Chipkin


Updated: Aug 27, 2019

There is a brief, new review of the Shadow State book in Foreign Affairs. Here is the link.

"These two excellent books provide some clues about the prospects for South African democracy. Chipkin and his co-authors analyze the corruption scandals that helped bring down President Jacob Zuma in early 2018. They provide meticulous evidence that Zuma and his associates, most notably the Gupta family and its business empire, captured state institutions for personal gain. The book documents the influence peddling, rent seeking, insider trading, and corruption that helped turn the Guptas’ business into one of South Africa’s largest corporate empires. In the end, the justice system, key elements of the ruling African National Congress, and the press resisted capture and exposed the scandal. The book describes an alarming level of corruption inside the anc and the state bureaucracy, but that such a book could be published at all in South Africa is a cause for optimism".

Shaun De Waal wrote a thoughtful review of the book in the Mail and Guardian.

“It is clear,” write the authors, “that while the ideological focus of the ANC is ‘radical economic transformation’, in practice Jacob Zuma’s presidency has been aimed at repurposing state institutions to consolidate a Zuma-centred power elite.”

They continue, a little later: “Until recently the decomposition of those state institutions was blamed on corruption, but we must now recognise that the problem goes well beyond this.”

“It is apparent,” they write, “that the nature of the state that is emerging —a blend of constitutional and shadow forms — will make it incapable of driving genuine development programmes … The shadow state feeds off the constitutional state in ways that sap vitality from formal institutions, leaving them empty shells incapable of executing their responsibilities.”

Shadow State outlines the processes involved in the growth of this parasitic relationship, in which the legitimate state is shadowed by another set of imperatives, basically outsourcing vital jobs such as the appointment of ministers and key players —the Guptas’ advances to Jonas being a prime example of how the shadow state, in its own interests, usurps the functions of the real state.

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