• Ivor Chipkin


The Betrayal of the Promise report is back in the spotlight. The recent report of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council credits the Betrayal of the Promise report (incorrectly called Shadow State), together the former Public Protector's 'State of Capture' report, as offering a cogent diagnostic of what is wrong with the South African state.

In March 2016 I published an article called 'Progressive Politics: in search of a silver lining in the current crisis. "Things are coming to a head," I argued, "and the stakes are as high as they could be. More and more revelations will surely emerge in the coming days and weeks about the relationship between the Zuma family and the Gupta family, about the shadowy links between groups based in the provinces and about deals concerning state-owned enterprises, about “rogue” intelligence units, about the current leadership at SARS, the Hawks and about the police".

Dealing with the tendency to treat these developments simply in terms of corruption or patronage, I continued, "the trouble with these politics-of-the-belly-type arguments is that they discount politics – not simply as competition between groups over resources, but as conflicts driven by ideas and, dare one say, idealism". I introduced a distinction between two political tendencies:

"The first is modernising and bureaucratic – it seeks to establish the sovereignty of institutions that more or less work on the basis of impersonal rules and regulations. The other is patrimonial and ambivalent about institutional autonomy".

This distinction between bureaucratic modernisers and patrimonial elements became the now well-know distinction between constitutionalists and rent-seekers in the Betrayal of the Promise report.

Read the original essay here - it anticipates the later Betrayal of the Promise report by nearly a year. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2016-03-30-progressive-politics-in-search-of-a-silver-lining-in-the-current-crisis/#.VvzOuO9kh3V.twitter

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