Letter: No shock state capture took place

During his two-day appearance before the Zondo commission President Cyril Ramaphosa talked about "lapses" and "delays" when it came to accounting for corruption and state capture — softening, smokescreen words at best.

It was not due to a failure of the ANC's ideology and policies — cadre deployment chief among them — that state capture took place. Rather it is a necessary feature of any ideology that demands an increased, ever-more-powerful role for the government. In the SA context this has come at the ultimate cost of low-income and poor citizens.

State capture should never have come as a shock; the ideology that supports the ANC's national democratic revolution demands that the party attains, and then increases, its control over the state, state-owned enterprises and all other levers of power, including over society as a whole. All of this requires an ever-expanding government, with the reach and influence necessary to reshape society to fit the "revolution".

When you mix the state and the economy you necessarily increase the possibility of corruption. As their control over the state increases so those in control of the ANC gain the required connections to give people jobs and other forms of patronage. And as the possible rewards increase so they attract those who want to "win" through corrupt and criminal behaviour. The only way to "win" is by crowding out real growth in the private sector and entrenching state-enforced monopolies.

The sort of transformationism demanded by the national democratic revolution will always, necessarily, result in political favours and corruption, because only "the party" will have the requisite knowledge to appoint the "right" people in positions of power. Those who occupy the top echelons at any point in time will find themselves pushed in the direction where they can retain the most pull and support, which means the incentives will always be in favour of more corruption, not less.

This article was first published on BusinessDay on 2 May 2021.

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