The status quo of state capture

Posted on December 07, 2017

The biggest debate currently underlying South African politics is that of State Capture which has simply been understood as: private business corporations having unauthorized influence over state policy and the distribution of its resources, in favour of private interests, at the expense of the masses.


The historical contextualization of corporatocracy sets up the system as we know it as inherently captured even throughout the advent of the 1994 democratic transition. The reality of private enterprises still enjoying the fruits of seeds sown from the deals made at a time where their legality and white capital empowerment was structurally normal is not new, and the continual adverse effects which characterizes the poor because of the monopoly status quo has always been a nerve of consternation in black communities. Industries are just not inclusive enough. When one considers post-colonial reparations and almost 24 years of electoral power for the previously disadvantaged, material anxiety keeps heightening more especially amongst the children of those who lived in Apartheid as symbolized by the ever so high unemployment rate. No matter how we explain or even justify the status quo, its apparent that suffering continues in the communities of those who were supposed to be liberated.


Everybody sees it and the jury is really out on the fact that there is a fierce contestation for the puppet strings. Yes, that’s politics for you hey, both domestic and globally. The gloves are truly off now and nobody is pitching up to this gun fight carrying a knife. (So hot is the kitchen that even Mugabe decided to call it a day). This is evident in what is visibly manifest in the media warfare ensuing with every headline, leak, and book full of secrets being launched from one camp to another like missile rockets in what is a conquest to sway public sentiment towards the “better devil” likely to take one’s revolution forward. As more political parties and organizations keep mushrooming and mobilizing, current affairs are playing out like a season of House of Cards as we learn more about our democracy with every plot twist.


 South Africa is a highly racialized society. There is always a yearning for change no matter where you are on the ladder, even if you hold the “things could be worse” rhetoric. There is an ongoing awareness being communicated in reconciling society’s antagonisms. This has been the case worldwide too, further sophisticating the ideologies being embraced while one eye is still being kept on robots already doing backflips and talking about giving birth. Globalization continues to have an impact on our society and how we view each other and the world. The mixed emotions on one of our own winning Miss Universe proved that- as many empathized with the runner up from Jamaica. What is Patriotism in a country where the national anthem gets dragged now and again? Quite evident that at the core of any political brand is first a reconciliation of identity, and when one changes, more often than not, the other follows.


These further conflicts the rat race being observed, notwithstanding everybody wants the cheese. The crimes being committed are so rampant that the umbrella concept of corruption is all that can really be employed to describe the systematic situation of hands being caught in a cookie jar. This has opened room for actors in civic society to gain clout as being part of the ‘voice of the people’ though it is worth pointing out that it is hardly plausible to play for the moral high ground when your face is full of crumbs. This becomes a game of hot potato between the actors in the limelight, as the arguments really boil down to who is more corrupt than the other or simply camping at the fact that the system is inherently corrupt and that criminalizing one actor is not a solution to the problem.


Nonetheless the dialogue continues…


Resource scarcity has so politicized many lives that philosophies of self-interests characterize politics of survival. One of my favourite lines from Jay-Z comes out of his Moment of Clarity track, released on his eighth studio album, The Black Album. Quoted: “And I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them, so I got rich and gave back to me, that’s the win-win.” The line carries weight in highlighting the post-colonial conflict every black person goes through when it comes to wealth (and the acquisition thereof); how the objective from a history of overt slavery is to find emancipation from poverty- with or without help from the government or community. The motif has found characterization throughout the music many have identified with even towards empathy with regards to illegal trade methods used as the artists have always done well to tell their side of the story, contextualizing the socially ill conditions many are faced with in a system which is debatably designed to favour certain group predispositions. (And which premise do you suppose the Hunger Games movies were based on?)

That is just how the system is set up. Its anarchic. Its violent and the complexity of the problem demands just as complex of a solution. This crystallizing the ‘by any means necessary’ phrase we have come to be acquainted with- do your means justify your end? The entrenched sentiment resonates beyond the parameters we find in the stories told in their music before they became famous: survival instincts in this modern age is consistently a matter of pursuing better living standards.


Whether one will achieve this through assimilating for a cubicle in the establishment or through informal creative mediums, the journey has always been the intertwining of personal fulfilment and collective emancipation. Evidently, there isn’t a uniform formula every black person can subscribe to as they join the rat-race for identity politics always differentiates a person to her own path. This, also being the case inherent in individuals, projects itself systematically relatively well enough as the definition of success finds a different meaning to the next person as the one before.

I am of the position that there is an invisible war being fought. Hardly disputable, I mean, what are all the intelligence agencies in the world existing for? When did rating agencies gain prominence over the sovereignty of countries with their own borders and people to have the power to relegate them from one status to another? It’s like writing an exam with the adjudicator always leaning over your shoulder as you try and get the answers flowing on to the question paper, how many of you actually enjoy being micro managed? Are we really going to pretend like economic hitmen don’t exist? Is it all a coincidence that African leaders always find themselves in a corner where their people are simply meant to conclude that corruption is all they stand for? At which point did sudden economic shifts become the moral yardstick of good governance? Notwithstanding, it should further make you wonder if democracy is simply not playing out the way it was designed to- to maintain the status quo.