Time to end state capture
Avery welcome outcome of the ANC’s national executive committee lekgotla this week was the statement on what the party called state capture. The leadership emerged from its three-day gathering with the message that the capture of state-owned enterprises by outside individuals needed to be curbed.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe did not mince his words when he described it as “a threat” that needed to be dealt with if state-owned enterprises and other state institutions were to work in the interests of the people.
“State capture is when people outside the state have heavy influence on the state and its institutions. The lekgotla has warned us to work against that and ensure that those institutions operate as state institutions, and they must be protected from outside influence ... The lekgotla warned against that. That warning came out very strongly,” Mantashe told a media briefing.
It is a belated wake-up call for a party that has long been warned by the media, civil society, trade unions and its own members about this insidious disease. An indirect outcome of cadre deployment gone wrong, as well as a misapplication of empowerment objectives, this capture has seen businesspeople literally own key decision makers in government and state-owned enterprises. Once owned, these people make decisions that are in the interests of their owners – to the detriment of the state entity and the public it serves. A simple way to describe it is sophisticated corruption.
The fact that this is the second time in a month that Mantashe has referred to this matter is encouraging. Earlier this month, he distanced the ANC from the Gupta family, which has been accused in many quarters of owning the president, ministers, bureaucrats and executives of stateowned enterprises.
“They [the Guptas] would not have any influence on the ANC. They would have relations with individuals in the ANC,” said Mantashe.
The ANC must now match words with action. It must deal harshly with the likes of Beaufort West mayor Truman Prince, whose use of the party’s name to secure deals for friends was by no means an isolated incident. The party must distance itself from President Jacob Zuma’s statement that “if you’re a businessman, your business will multiply” if you donate to the ANC.