The Shadow State and Racialising Processes

The Shadow State and Racialising Processes

Please reference as: Liz Stanley (2018) ‘The Shadow State and Racialising Processes’ and provide the paragraph number as appropriate when quoting.


1. Shadow state: the background

1.1       The terms ‘shadow state’ and ‘state capture’ may not be familiar in many parts of the world, but have been central to discussions of South African political life over the last few years and throw significant light on the nature of the state as it has developed over the period of the post-1994 transition. These things came to public attention via repeated revelations of corrupt and indeed illegal activities by groups and organisations, adding up to the machinations of a power elite that exists in a shadowy way alongside formal political processes. In particular, during 2016, knowledge about the Gupta brothers, their economic empire and their suspect role in South African economic and political life erupted into the public realm, thanks to keen and persistent investigative journalism and a determined Public Prosecutor. A number of high-profile scandals involving the Gupta family and other members of President Zuma’s inner circles entered public consciousness as examples of ‘state capture’, to the effect that the Guptas possessed untoward control over political and even governmental matters as well as economic ones. Perhaps the most notorious, although not the most consequential, example of the clout they had come to have was the commandeering in late 2013 of the state’s Waterkloof South African Air Base to fly in guests to a Gupta wedding.

1.2       As associated investigations continued, it became clear that such connections and their shadow state activities were by no means limited to the Guptas and their Saxonwold corporate stronghold in Johannesburg (see for example Olver 2017 and reports in many issues of the Daily Maverick, the South African and other independent news sources). It became increasingly and depressingly clear that the overlaying of corruption with political process with economic life existed at all levels of governance.

1.3       ‘State capture’ is an analytical term originally developed by Joel Hellman, Daniel Kauffman and others in a series of IMF reports (Hellman et al 2000a, 2000b; Kauffman et al 2000). In February and March 2016 there was much reporting in South Africa of the network connections – adding up to a figuration in Norbert Elias’s terms – that existed between the Gupta brothers and many in President Zuma’s inner group. This also revealed illicit and corrupt connections existing across companies in media, communications, construction, finance, infrastructure development and a wide range of other economic ventures, connections which also encompassed the highest levels of political life. Then in late 2016, then-Public Prosecutor Thuli Madonsela’s (2017) report State of Capture was published, confirming these connections and the illegalities involved. The bottom-line was that the Guptas had been not only able to exert undue economic influence, but also to directly control political placements including at ministerial level, adding up to state capture and the existence of a shadow state operating alongside the formal one and encompassing Zuma, his close family and an array of business/political links.

1.4       Chipkin and Swilling’s Betrayal of the Promise, a report building on State of Capture emanating from the State Capacity Research Project, an interdisciplinary and inter-university group coordinated by the Public Affairs Research Institute, was published in May 2017. As well as providing an integrated conceptual framework for understanding what was going on, the State Capacity analysis also collated and presented extensive published and unpublished material demonstrating the ‘repurposing’ of the state. Betrayal of the Promise therefore provides much information and food for thought about how interconnections between the shadow state and the constitutional state actually happened and what some of the consequences are. Its central argument is that:

…from about 2012 onwards the Zuma-centred power elite has sought to centralise the control of rents [contracts and tenders] to eliminate lower-order, rent-seeking competitors. The ultimate prize was control of the National Treasury to gain control of the Financial Intelligence Centre (which monitors illicit flows of finance), the Chief Procurement Office (which regulates procurement and activates legal action against corrupt practices), the Public Investment Corporation (the second largest shareholder on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange), the boards of key development finance institutions, and the guarantee system (which is not only essential for making the nuclear deal work, but with a guarantee state entities can borrow from private lenders/banks without parliamentary oversight). The cabinet reshuffle in March 2017 has made possible this final control of the National Treasury.

The capture of the National Treasury, however, followed five other processes that consolidated power and centralised control of rents:

  1. The ballooning of the public service to create a compliant politically-dependent, bureaucratic class.

  2. The sacking of the ‘good cops’ from the police and intelligence services and their replacement with loyalists prepared to cover up illegal rent seeking (with some forced reversals, for example, Robert McBride).

  3. Redirection of the procurement-spend of the SOEs to favour those prepared to deal with the Gupta-Zuma network of brokers (those who are not, do not get contracts, even if they have better BEE credentials and offer lower prices).

  4. Subversion of Executive Authority that has resulted in the hollowing out of the Cabinet as South Africa’s pre-eminent decision-making body and in its place the establishment of a set of ‘kitchen cabinets’ of informally constituted elites who compete for favour with Zuma in an unstable crisis-prone complex network.

  5. The consolidation of the Premier League as a network of party bosses, to ensure that the National Executive Committee of the ANC remains loyal.

At the epicentre of the political project mounted by the Zuma-centred power elite is a rhetorical commitment to radical economic transformation. Unsurprisingly… the Zuma-centred power elite emphasizes the role of the SOEs, particularly their procurement spend. Eskom and Transnet, in turn, are the primary vehicles for managing state capture, large-scale looting of state resources and the consolidation of a transnationally managed financial resource base, which in turn creates a continuous source of self-enrichment and funding for the power elite and their patronage network. In short, instead of becoming a new economic policy consensus, radical economic transformation has been turned into an ideological football kicked around by factional political players within the ANC and the Alliance in general who use the term to mean very different things. [Chipkin and Swilling 2017, pp.2-3]

1.5       The key argument here is as follows. Radical economic transformation is a legitimate activity in order to repurpose state institutions so as to structurally change the economy to reduce poverty, unemployment and inequality, and when done by the formal state acting in a democratic capacity. But working covertly to consolidate an inner, power elite (in this case initiated but no longer confined to a Jacob Zuma grouping) adds up to state capture and threatens the long-term viability of legitimate state institutions. Although not referencing the work of C. Wright Mills and others on the ‘power elite’, the term is used by Chipkin and Swilling in a very Mills-ian way, with the bottom-line being that the rhetoric of radical reform has also been ‘captured’ and is now being used to justify the activities of the inner elite that forms the shadow state: ‘white monopoly capital’ is seen as to blame for all ills and must be replaced by radical black empowerment as represented by the leading figures operating within the power elite. This is not just corruption, although corruption is involved, but something much more encompassing because it threatens the very existence of the constitutional state by both overlaying and undermining it with a shadow state apparatus in which the interests of a tiny but powerful elite are being served and those of the vast majority being side-lined.


2. Racialising processes and the state

2.1       Chipkin and Swilling’s (2018) Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture presents the same argument as the linked report, although in more detail and in a conceptionally more sophisticated way. Clearly there are numerous ways in which its contents could be considered. However, its analysis of the character of the state and how this has been impacted are of most relevance to the White Writing Whiteness project. WWW research has demonstrated the existence of a distinctive racialising process with regulation and racial categorisation characterising both the state and the trajectory of change in South Africa (for an overview of these ideas, see; see also Stanley 2017). What implications are there in Chipkin and Swilling’s work for how to think about state processes and any possible changes occurring to the ontological basis of what the state ‘is’ or is becoming?

2.2       The processes of state formation and perpetuation importantly encompass accumulation, re/distribution, the monopolisation of legitimate force, and regulation. These have a distinctive trajectory in South Africa, which make it significantly different from European experiences of long-term state development. Regulation and the racialising of systems of categorisation are central and in Eliasian terms produce a hierarchy in established and outsider groupings. Racial categorisation and the ongoing processes of racialising are not only still present in South African society over two decades after the end of apartheid and the democratic transition, but are in important respects even more omnipresent. The uses of racial categorisation now reach into even mundane routine aspects of life, like reporting traffic accidents and minor crimes, and purchasing medicines. The requirement of categorisation as an everyday way of placing things, people and events is both ritualistic (being collected as a requirement but largely not being used), and has become ever more present in the wider re-invention of race (and gender) as a dominating feature of social life. And this has occurred because race categorisation is a key mechanism for radical social and economic transformation policies and black economic empowerment (BEE) activities and is instrumental in, for example, facilitating job appointments. Categorise local populations and groupings, compare the results against national or regional averages, set targets and promote changes accordingly.

2.3       The regulatory aspects of state apparatuses world-wide are increasingly important (Urry 2000), but less frequently considered in conceptualising what the contemporary state is/does, perhaps because many governments of both centre and right pronounce their disengagement from such activities although in practice keenly promoting them. These regulatory aspects have been a marked feature in the South African context from the start of the European presence (associated, for example, with passes and other ways of categorising race used from the early 1800s on); and they have increased over time, propelled by the increasing scale of populations, technologies and activities that the state deals with, and the capacity as well as perceived necessity of regulation to ensure monopolisation, accumulation and re/distribution.

2.4       Regulation requires categorisation, for categorisations are the basis of being able to measure the effectiveness or not, not only of regulatory measures, but also of those adopted so as to ensure monopolisation, accumulation and re/distribution. Regulation requires knowledge of things such as population size, its age and gender structure, income levels, employment and unemployment levels, the incidence of crime and responses to it, levels of health and illness and so on. Categorisation shows which groups or sections of the population are experiencing what levels or measures of, for example. unemployment, housing deprivation or crime victimisation, and produces measures of social structure. In this, racial categorisation remains central in the South African context and is becoming so elsewhere as a proxy for an aspect of discrimination or exclusion.

2.5       In South Africa, regulation and categorisation have been seen as a biometric initiative to ensure racial identification and control and introduced in the proto-apartheid past (Breckenridge 2017). Certainly this has been involved, but it is by no means the whole story, for the processes of regulation and categorisation have far longer origins and now have a far wider remit. In addition, notions of ‘race’ and what constitutes it are a product, not a cause, of categorisation. And contemporaneously, categorisations based on race have entered the equal opportunities and black economic empowerment frame because enabling disparities in resources and opportunities to be identified and targeted: redistribution as a desired result requires categorisation of types of persons in order to be measured and accomplishment gauged.

2.6       On one level, this is of course not so very different from similar processes in other societies across the world, for the extension of regulation and categorisation with respect to racial categories is ubiquitous and measures of race as an apparently fundamental aspect of how people are ‘naturally’ have been institutionalised widely. Such extensions are regulation and categorisation have occurred in most national societies and must be seen as now on a par with monopolisation, accumulation and distribution as key elements of the late modern state. In addition, it is not just race that has been reinvented and treated in this way. ‘Gender’ too has become ubiquitous and replaced sex as a way of indicating both biological and social aspects of categorisation, with this category also now appearing as key in the ‘required information’ demanded in recording systems in many areas of social life.

2.7       However, regarding South Africa, there are ways in which regulation and categorisation have occurred and are still occurring in respect of race matters that are distinctive. Its specific history cannot be forgotten and reverberations of the different elements involved continue to mark the many ways in which racial regulation and categorisation are now used and largely taken-for-granted. This cannot be put on one side as incidental, for the effects powerfully play out in regulation and categorisation and also face-to-face relations between people.


3. State capture, repurposing and radical economic transformation

3.1       Key terms in Shadow State are state capture, so as to change the terms of political and socio-economic life; the development of interlocking power elites and those who act as their brokers; repurposing existing state and related organisations to serve sectional interests; the reallocation of ‘rents’ (in South Africa now most often in the form of state contracts for procurement) but shifting from legitimate re/distributions to corrupt self-serving ones; these things giving rise to a shadow state of key persons (controllers and other elite members) and ad hoc groupings (kitchen cabinets) formed to achieve particular nefarious purposes; use of the rhetoric of radical economic transformation to serve black empowerment but to legitimate these actually illegitimate activities; and beneath this apparently progressive political project is one that is actually venal and serving sectional interests. Many state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in other countries are externalised from the state in South Africa, while its two key SOEs (Transnet and Eskom) issue nearly three-quarters of all SOE procurements, with both aspects helping to fuel the state capture process.

3.2       Shadow State starts by claiming, erroneously, that state capture has characterised South Africa from the 17th century and the presence of the Dutch East India Company onwards (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, pp.1-2). However, there was no unified South African state until Union in 1910. But, although an argument about this might perhaps be made about Rhodes and his Prime Ministership of the Cape, this ended after Rhodes’s ‘fall’; and concerning the Transvaal under Kruger, this aspect was largely dismantled through the reforms enacted by Reitz as Transvaal State Secretary and Smuts as State Attorney; and regarding the so-called Randlords, even in the short Milner era post-1902, any shadow state aspirations they might have had failed because they were out-manoeuvered by the successes of Afrikaner politicians Botha, Smuts and the rise of nationalist parties quickly gaining control. The point from where there is such a lineage and continuity in state activities occurring from the 1920s and 30s on.

3.3       ‘Volkskapitalisme’saw the use of state mechanisms by the National government of the day to ‘Afrikanerise’ the economy and polity by inventing and purposing a range of state-owned and private corporate institutions and organisations. These then came to dominate key areas of socio-economic life and provided positions for white people, in particular Afrikaners, on the basis of their connections rather than qualifications. And many of these are still part of the landscape. Indeed, what is happening now might perhaps be seen as the ‘Africanisation’ of the earlier institutionalisation of Afrikanerisation, and has been described as ‘neo-volkskapitalisme’. Another way of thinking about this is that there has been considerable continuity in state and para-state structures in South Africa since the 1920s and it is this that has enabled the present instantiation of state capture, rather than present-day state capture originating such structures and ways of working starting from scratch. The rhetoric of a radical economic transformation to benefit the majority population is not new (though volkskapitalisme served the biggest white group), then. But what is new is that this is being set against key state institutions, seen to serve ‘white hegemony’. This is the shadow state being represented as a legitimated challenge to the constitutional state using the rubric of ‘white monopoly capitalism’, but with the reality being that the beneficiaries are actually minority sectional and elite interests, rather than the mass of people.

3.4       Chipkin and Swilling and their associates interestingly discuss the long-term fragmented character of the South African state as a factor in attempting to counter the processes of state capture:

…for large parts of the 20th century the administrative structure of the country was broken up by the apartheid government. So by the end of the apartheid era there were 14 separate and parallel administrations, each with its own government and government departments in the Bantustans, together with the racialised administrations of the tricameral system at the national level. For this reason, the ANC’s tendency has been to maximise political control of government administrations… Hence, far-reaching steps were taken to locate key administrative power within the executive arm of government. At the same time, in the name of the ‘new public management’ movements… much of government’s work has been effectively outsourced to private companies, consultants and contractors. This combination of politicisation of public administrations and of outsourcing has given state capture its particular form – from manipulating government appointments two directing tenders to selected beneficiaries… (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, p.14)

3.5       However, it is not just that the state in South Africa is fragmented. It is that for many decades it has had this particular form or structure and this is a design aspect, with recent ‘new public management’ changes building on existing long-standing ways of operating. And although Chipkin and Swilling do not discuss it like this, in South Africa, these structures that now facilitate state capture have arisen as part of the long-term trajectory that its national state has taken from at least the 1920s on. That is, it started with the state under National Party rule and governance, in using its powers to favour white and in particular Afrikaner interests.

3.6       The shadow state in contemporary South Africa as a result takes a particular form, which Chipkin and Swilling (2018, pp.19-27) describe using the (rather misleading) term of ‘war economy’. This term originated as a way of describing how states respond by repurposing key structures in the extraordinary circumstances of war, in becoming both very centralised and operating through externalised bodies. The key components are that,

…the ‘shadow state’ establishes a number of informal structures which produce systems of ‘profit, power and protection’ that, in turn, serve to further their operations, making possible continued preferential access to resources and power through an exploitative economic system. The cycle can, therefore, continue.

One of the key requirements… is the ability to secure a system of command and control over the way the resources are accessed, moved and distributed. At the outset, control must be established over the sources of extraction… Once access to the source of extraction is secured, networks of middlemen or brokers must be established that can move resources externally… to sustain loyalty… The ability to transact within this network is facilitated by establishing political marketplaces where support is traded through the provision of access to resources.

The skills of this patronage network are localised within a number of groups. The networks consist of three elements: the controllers, the elites and the entrepreneurs (also known as brokers)… (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, p.19)

3.7       The shadow state operates alongside and is intertwined with the constitutional state, with the result that ‘state institutions are being repurposed to serve the private accumulation interests of a small elite’ (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, p.29), not transformation and redistribution to support equality measures for the majority of people. However, as noted earlier, in the ‘alternative facts’ sense this is being represented as part of a radical political project (pp.31-32) because it shifts large amounts of resources and helps to grow not only a black inner elite (‘controllers’, in Chipkin and Swilling’s model of state capture) but also a black business class and a large managerial and administrative, though highly dependent, middle class, all tied into the resulting widespread systems of patronage and brokerage. At the heart of the mechanism is the repurposing of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) with their activities mediating between the shadow state and the constitutional state, and even more so in promoting the routine operation of government as a tender-generating machine interconnected with a political patronage machine (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, pp.45-53).

3.8       Tenders and procurement are central, as the liquidity on which the shadow state apparatus runs and repurposing is achieved, with Shadow State providing some detailed examples of this at work (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, pp.59-100 and 101-31). The project of radical economic transformation was one that the ANC government had enshrined in its own policies, with a result of this being the rapid politicisation of public administration and public service after 1998, in order to establish political control of the state. The mechanisms adopted to achieve black economic empowerment also produced a highly politicised clientele group, with BEE deals also involving huge transfers and breaking up conglomerates, and at the same time limiting investment. This politicisation of administration and associating it with party organisational structures undermines one aspect of the separation of powers, its independence from political interests, while the externalisation and ‘tender-isation’ of much administrative functioning undermines its independence from economic interests. Moreover, this is not just a national-level phenomenon, but through party structures and municipal governance is to be found on a huge scale at local levels too.

3.9       Chipkin and Swilling’s eye is mainly on the national situation. In the context of the major fragmentations of political and economic power that have occurred,

…the Gupta-Zuma nexus came to be a relatively constant site of authority. It was an attractive one, moreover, because it could marshal substantial resources and was armed with a capacity to undertake propaganda… Saxonwold [the Gupta organisational HQ], however, hosted only one of what we have called ‘kitchen cabinets’, through which contemporary political power in South Africa is exercised…

The fragmentation of power across the state and its retreat into shadowy networks outside the formal architecture of government has been compounded by the ballooning of the public service…

…the organisation of the state came to be based less on functional criteria than on political ones, and was accompanied by the politicisation of state administrations… (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, pp.120-1)

3.10     Seemingly this happened to support radical economic transformation. However, this rhetoric was ‘used to give ideological legitimacy to what is essentially a political project to repurpose state institutions for the benefit of a power elite’ (Chipkin and Swilling 2018, p.134). But as Olver’s (2017) dissection of an attempt to dismantle the shadow state operating at a municipality level indicates, there is no one single power elite, but elite groupings that form at different levels of governance and regarding different functions, and in this sense what Chipkin and Swilling call ‘kitchen cabinets’ is the basic form that the shadow state takes. It is too simple to say that politicisation promotes externalisation promotes corruption, for the resulting apparatus seems to include only minorities of people from any of the composing structures. However, the dynamic does exist and is supported by intimidation and violence, including the now almost routine occurrence of contract killings for those who break cover, so that it dominates in the sense that its tentacles may exist anywhere alongside routine functioning.


4. The shadow state and racialising

4.1       The political reverberations of state capture processes are clear, in undermining constitutional government and its state apparatus from within, ‘repurposing’ these through moving effective action into shadow structures and roles, and doing so at local as well as national levels. But there are also implications for the key aspects of the state regarding accumulation, re/distribution, regulation and the monopolisation of legitimate force.

4.2       Accumulation is a focus at a number of levels. ‘Locally’, it produces a shadow economy of contracts and bribes, kick-backs and pay-offs, along with the semi-institutionalised roles of fixers and brokers which may characterise people’s behaviour in addition to their administrative or managerial ones. At the level of the constituent provincial states in the Union of South Africa, their political and administrative elites have become linked to shadow forms of accumulation linked also to political manoeuvring. And at national state level, the culture of capture along with repurposing and rent-transfers has produced a pattern of high yield short term investments around favoured projects and corrupt procurements, of which a mooted mega-million nuclear deal with Russia is perhaps the most notorious example.

4.3       Re/distribution is also a focus, in two rather different senses. One is the rhetoric of pretend radical economic transformation (RET), while the reality here is the transfer of huge sums to an inner elite of controllers, brokers and entrepreneurs operating in the rhetorical climate which sees kickback and payoffs as part of BEE. The other is the creation of a large managerial and administrative class whose well-paid positions and associated perks are significantly if often unknowingly dependent on the activities of the shadow state and its organisational forms including its brokers and fixers.

4.4       Regulation is certainly involved, both in the negative sense of deregulating, and also in the increasing activities that are occurring around RET and BEE, but with this occurring as a by-product of other aspects of the shadow state. It is the rhetoric of racialising that is at work here, not its substance in extending systems of regulation to support actual economic transformation and empowerment for the majority of the population, but instead benefitting just power elite and kitchen cabinet groupings.

4.5       The monopolisation of legitimate force at first sight looks an outlier here. However, a contract/procurement culture has become a way of life for many at local levels as the source of income and livelihood. When housing, health, transportation and other projects end by being damaged or destroyed, further contracts will be issued, so that violence against property has become entrenched as a quasi-redistributive mechanism. A system involving kickbacks and bribes also gives rise at least to the potential, and in many cases the actuality, of violence, sometimes murderous violence, against persons. With regards to both property and persons, what is legitimate and what is illegitimate force is up for grabs, along with who and what controls force at local, provincial state and national levels.


5. States and systems

5.1       What this adds up to is a picture of the further fragmentation of an already fragmented state, because the locus of much activity and decision-making is shifting from the formal to the informal, reinforcing patterns first put in place when activity was shifted from the formal state to external bodies after 1910. There is now a large, significant and growing deregulated ‘sector’ without locational fixity and regarding which no categorical measurements (how many, where, which organisations or groups, what ages and gender and race) exist, which can form and reform in contextually grounded ways. And this is occurring at the same time as the extension of regulation and categorisation of the formal sectors and activities of both the state and civil society.

5.2       Within these processes, the rhetoric of racial categorisation, BEE, white monopoly capitalism and white hegemony as a response to racial discrimination is being used to promote highly sectional interests and the rapid accumulation of resources (power, finance, status) in ways seen (or at least described) as justified or even semi-legitimate. This raises important questions about the character of the stage and suggest that Eliasian ideas about this, already expanded in WWW research around categorisation and rationalisation, also need to be expanded in shadow state terms.

5.3       The existence of a shadow state, involving accumulation, redistribution, and monopolisation, and requiring regulation if not itself engaged regulation, is amply confirmed by the large amount of evidence now accumulated. In addition, state capture, involving the influence of elite members over, or control of, political appointments and political processes, seems confirmed regarding the activities of some groupings at power elite levels. ‘Capture’ in this sense is also likely to be occurring at provincial, municipality and local levels, although what is most often documented is an extreme level of economic corruption combined with intimidation and force by more circumscribed kitchen cabinet entities.

5.4       What ‘is’, in an ontological sense, a shadow state and state capture occurring alongside and within a constitutional state? Minus the rhetorical aspects, perhaps the closest parallels are, firstly, with the National Party state and volkskapitalisme, and secondly, with traditional forms of African polities. The former has already been discussed; regarding the latter, the form that, for example, the Swazi state took historically bears interesting points of comparison. These include combining great centralisation with pronounced externalisation of power structures, promotion of a large dependent class of functionaries, extracting rents – that is, or payments for favoured contracts and so forth – although in a context where the intertwining of public forms and semi-private elite purposes were open and the form that the legitimate (using the term broadly) state traditionally took.

5.5       This is about the state in a constitutionally- (National Party) or traditionally- (Swazi monarchy) legitimated form. It is also about systems ‘beyond the state’. That is, there are also frequent unintended reverberations of changes occurring at levels beyond the national state and which impact on state functioning and also on activity and structures at local levels. In Swaziland a relevant 1880s example was the influx of white prospectors from many other parts of the world seeking land concessions in search of diamonds, gold, coal and other minerals, which led to massive changes in the nature of its monarchy, then to a period of shared governance, and then Transvaal overrule. Regarding South Africa, a 1920s example was the resounding rejection of union with South Africa on the part of the white Rhodesian electorate, preferring its own even more hawkish racist independence, with consequences both for the structure of the South African state and also for the future of Rhodesia and the way that Zimbabwe was shaped thereafter.

5.6       What does this tell about the utility or otherwise of an Elias-inspired account of the state in South Africa and its changes over time? And more specifically, does the racialising process thesis still seem an appropriate way to think about this, as a trajectory that parallels but also is witness to some marked departures from his ideas about the civilising process in a European context?

5.7       There has never been any intention to ‘apply’ Elias’s ideas as a model to South Africa, but instead to think about the tools involved and whether these retain utility if they are bent and shaped to fit its distinctive history and present-day socio-political characteristics. It was in this spirit that ideas about the racialising process as an appropriate way of thinking about South Africa and its changes over time were developed. It has been as part of this insistence on the importance of specific history that regulation has been seen as an important, indeed a crucial, dimension of its state processes and character. From the word go, and as soon as there was anything recognisable as a local state in existence, racial categorisation and regulation came on the scene. Of course, regulation has gone through many changes since then, so that while racial categorisation has remained a constant, the precise ways in which this has been done, and its definition in specific terms, has varied. It is an appropriate addition to accumulation, re/distribution and monopolisation in thinking about statecraft in South Africa from the first European-style state on, and also concerning present-day states in general.

5.8       But what of the more recent developments indicated here and their deregulating thrust? Certainly these exist and are significant for the reasons discussed. But the formal components and regulation not only remain, but indeed are increasing in their remit. Deregulation is occurring alongside and through the formal and its systems of regulation, not instead of this. Not only does the legitimating rhetoric needs regulation and racial categorisation to be able to claim that the present system does not redistribute sufficiently and appropriately, it needs a faulty formal state to be perpetuated, for its parasitic existence relies on this.

5.9       What then of the shadow state and state capture if Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds as President and the ANC reforms itself? It really is a case of, watch this space.


6. References

Keith Breckenridge. 2014. Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swilling. 2017. Betrayal of the Promise. Johannesburg: Public Affairs Research Institute, Wits.

Ivor Chipkin and Mark Swilling. 2018. Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.

Joel S Hellman; Geraint Jones; Daniel Kaufmann; and Mark A Schankerman. 2000a. Measuring Governance, Corruption, and State Capture: How Firms and Bureaucrats Shape the Business Environment in Transition Economies. Policy Research Working Paper No. 2312. World Bank, Washington, DC.

Joel S Hellman; Geraint Jones; and Daniel Kaufman. 2000b. “Seize the State, Seize the Day”: State Capture, Corruption, and Influence in Transition. Policy Research Working Paper No. 2444. World Bank, Washington, DC.

Daniel Kaufman; Joel S Hellman; Geraint Jones; and Mark A Schankerman. 2000. Measuring Governance, Corruption, and State Capture: How Firms and Bureaucrats Shape the Business Environment in Transition Economies (April 2000). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 2312. Available at SSRN:

Thuli Madonsela. 2017. State of Capture, Report no.6. South Africa: Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Crispian Olver. 2017. How To Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

Dan O’Meara. 1983. Volkskapitalisme: Class, Capital and Ideology in the Development of Afrikaner Nationalism, 1934-1948. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Liz Stanley. 2017. The Racialising Process: Whites Writing Whiteness in Letters, South Africa 1770s-1970s.  Edinburgh: X Press.

John Urry. 2000. Sociology Beyond Societies, Routledge.


Last updated:  13 May 2021