UKZN Hosts Panel Discussion on State Capture

Unpacking state capture, white monopoly capital, radical socio-economic transformation and the emergence of civil society protests, were debated during a panel discussion at UKZN.

The College of Humanities and the Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit hosted the event as part of the Transformation and Leadership Lecture Series.

The panel included ANC’s Provincial Chairperson and KwaZulu-Natal’s MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Mr Sihle Zikalala, Mr Rajeshwar Maharaj of the Active Citizens Movement, and UKZN academic and public commentator, Dr Lubna Nadvi.

In his welcoming address, the Director of UKZN’s Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit, Professor Paulus Zulu, said: ‘These are topical issues. The role of a university is to be analytical and literally distil social thought. This lecture brings these issues to the fore, challenges ideas and lets them be articulated succinctly for everybody to know what is happening. This lecture encourages debate – because we are not all seeing things in the same way – and will possibly lead to a resolution.’

The panel discussion began with a set of questions posed to each of the participants by the facilitator, Mr Lukhona Mnguni. Answering on whether the ANC should adopt a clear ideological orientation away from viewing itself as a broad church, Zikalala replied that the ANC had previously had to deal with the question around ‘the character of the organisation’.

The party settled on defining itself as a multiclass and contested movement that would be ‘a disciplined force of the left’. He was emphatic in saying ‘leaders must not liberate the country for themselves, but for the people’.

Zikalala reflected on the competing social forces attempting to direct the governance of the state and how the ANC sees itself responding to some of the voices challenging the President and the direction he is taking in terms of governance.

‘The protests we have seen in recent weeks are not by people who have elected the ANC. These people never marched or voted for President Jacob Zuma. Opposition parties such as the DA and EFF led those marches. These protests don’t signify that the ANC is losing power.’

Of state capture, Zikalala said it was not a new phenomenon emphasizing that ‘whether you talk of the Oppenheimers or the Guptas, they don’t represent what the ANC stands for. No member of the ANC should ever defend both because they are not in the interests of the ANC,’ he said.

Servant leadership in the context of pursuing radical socio-economic transformation was also discussed with Zikalala reflecting on the discussion document of the ANC on Economic Transformation and on some of the dynamics in KZN’s economy in terms of economic transformation. ‘Radical economic transformation will be expedited through the black industrialists’ programme,’ said Zikalala.

Maharaj spoke on the emergence of civil society participation relating to governance, especially in the form of protests. ‘Recent public protests should be viewed in a serious light because people are angry. Leadership is tied to the morality of the nation. The country needs deliverance.’

He lamented the invisibility of leaders such as Members of Parliament and Members of Provincial Legislature in their constituency offices and surrounding communities, saying ‘leaders must not only be visible in times of crisis’. Elaborating on how the Active Citizens Movement draws its list of priorities, Maharaj indicated that the agenda of the ACM came from the ground (grassroots) where the movement had branches.

He even called for a review of electoral laws, arguing that whites were not the only ones who had captured the state saying there were black people led establishments of state capture as well.

Nadvi said the phenomenon of state capture in South Africa was not a new one; however, it had manifested itself in a very particular way over the last several years. ‘This has resulted in the ruling party losing support and the confidence of the people as it appears that it is largely ANC members who have been captured by business interests,’ she said.

The leadership of the ruling party and the government had to create an environment that would be conducive to enabling debate and discussion about what happens next in South Africa instead of shutting down spaces and voices that they did not agree with.

‘The succession/leadership race in the ANC will be watched closely by South Africans and how the ruling party conducts itself over the next few months will decide whether it sustains the support of  the masses in the future. South Africa belongs to all its people and not certain groupings or elites. The country’s future cannot be gambled with or assumed to be for sale to the highest bidder,’ said Nadvi.