The 2017 publication of Betrayal of the Promise, the report that detailed the systematic nature of state capture, marked a key moment in South Africa’s most recent struggle for democracy. In the face of growing evidence of corruption and of the weakening of state and democratic institutions, it provided, for the first time, a powerful analysis of events that helped galvanise resistance within the Tripartite Alliance and across civil society.
Working often secretly, the authors consolidated, for the first time, large amounts of evidence from a variety of sources. They showed that the Jacob Zuma administration was not simply a criminal network but part of an audacious political project to break the hold of whites and white business on the economy and to create a new class of black industrialists. State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as Eskom and Transnet were central to these plans.
The report introduced a whole new language to discuss state capture, showing how SOEs were ‘repurposed’, how political power was shifting away from constitutional bodies to ‘kitchen cabinets’, and how a ‘shadow state’ at odds with the country’s constitutional framework was being built. Shadow State is an updated version of the original, explosive report that changed South Africa’s recent history.