Can you capture a state that was never free?

As we discuss “state capture” in the Republic, let’s pause for a moment and ask ourselves what can be captured and how.

If we, for a few seconds, accept that what we term “public” institutions have largely never been truly public (nor geared to the masses), then perhaps we must rethink our notion of “state” and “capture.” This is not to suggest that the state isn’t under siege, but rather that the conditions have always been conducive to “capture.” We are, after all, a Republic whose Reserve Bank is privately owned. A Republic in which inequality thrives and the primary beneficiaries are “nameless” faceless folk whose enterprises are propped by exploitation and oppression – here’s a pint of brandy for tilling vineyards, dear pleb.

In 2006, Hennie van Vuuren, then with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS)(shameless plug:, produced a report detailing how apartheid, by its very nature, was the apex of corruption and (indulge me here) state capture.

In 2016, with Zuptagate (a spade is a spade, not a big spoon), the notion of “state capture” rears its head again. But was the state ever free to be captured? Andiyaz’ ‘na.

And sometime while we were all euphoric about bright coloured black & brownless rainbows, deals were cut that compromised – and continue to compromise – the very notion of a free society and economy.



Your favourite president, over two decades ago, made economic deals that we must now undo. For their legacy is one of state capture. (The Conversation Africa on the truths we don’t like to hear because rainbows and kumbaya)

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