Neopatrimonialism and state capture : the case of the South African Social Security Agency

Foley, Robyn (2019-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : Since 2016, when the term first entered South Africa’s political-economic discourse, the colloquial use of the concept “State Capture” has come to be a representative descriptor of a state besieged by corruption. In 2017, a collective of academics formed the State Capacity Research Project (SCRP) and released the Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen report (Bhorat, Buthelezi, Chipkin, Duma, Mondi, Peter, Qobo & Swilling, 2017), which was one of the first attempts to provide an academic framework for understanding this phenomenon. Drawing on neopatrimonial school of thought, the report argued, as do I, that State Capture extends beyond being a mere form of “grand corruption”. Building on this framework, this thesis critically examines the theories of state capture and neopatrimonialism, and puts forward a conceptualisation of State Capture as a context-specific phenomenon, encompassing a much broader political project undertaken by the power elite, which results in a unique form of (mis)governance. In July 2018, a follow-up case study was released, titled How One Word Can Change the Game: Case Study of State Capture and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) (Foley & Swilling, 2018), which was produced from the research undertaken for this thesis. The case study presented in this thesis centres around what is commonly referred to as SASSA-Gate, where in March 2017 a potential national crisis was narrowly averted when the Constitutional Court was forced to extend an already unlawful and invalid contract to ensure the continuation of payment of social grants to some 17 million beneficiaries. The foundation of the crisis is linked to the original invalid contract, which was entered into between SASSA and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in 2012, and which has been surrounded in controversy and allegations of corruption ever since. At the centre of the SASSA-Gate crisis (and the main motivation for the awarding of the invalid contract) is the proprietary biometric card technology of CPS. From the research, it emerged that there are potential insights which might be gained by applying the conceptualisation of State Capture to the ever-increasing uncertainties associated with future developmental disruptions, such as those associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). The research was undertaken as both a descriptive and an exploratory qualitative case study and is presented in a dense narrative format. Granular research methodology was adopted, where various data sources were combined and analysed from multiple perspectives and at different levels, and as such the findings of the research cannot be easily summarised. The principal outcome of the research is the case study itself. The overall objectives of the research were primarily to provide a detailed account of the SASSA-Gate crisis and to further develop the theoretical framework for understanding the phenomenon of State Capture and how this relates to the concept of systemic neopatrimonialism. Ultimately, this research seeks to add further understanding of the current discourse on State Capture in South Africa and to provide a much needed, detailed account of how the shadow state operates and manoeuvres alongside and within formal government structures.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : Sedert 2016, toe die term die eerste keer in Suid-Afrika se polities-ekonomiese diskoers gebruik is, het die informele gebruik van die konsep “Staatskaping” ’n verteenwoordigende beskrywer van ’n staat in die greep van korrupsie geword. In 2017 het ’n groep akademici die State Capacity Research Project (SCRP) gestig en die Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen-verslag (Bhorat et al., 2017) uitgereik, wat een van die eerste pogings was om ’n akademiese raamwerk te voorsien om hierdie verskynsel te verstaan. Gegrond op die neopatrimoniale denkskool, redeneer hierdie verslag, en ek ook, dat “Staatskaping” meer is as bloot ’n vorm van “grootskaalse korrupsie”. Gegrond op hierdie raamwerk, ondersoek hierdie tesis krities die teorieë van staatskaping en neopatrimonialisme, en doen aan die hand ’n konseptualisering van Staatskaping as ’n konteks-spesifieke verskynsel, wat ’n baie breër politiese projek omvat wat deur die mags-elite onderneem word, wat lei tot ’n unieke vorm van (wan)regering. In Julie 2018 is ’n opvolg-gevallestudie uitgereik, getitel How One Word Can Change the Game: Case Study of State Capture and the South African Social Security Agency (Foley & Swilling, 2018), wat ontwikkel is vanuit die navorsing wat vir hierdie tesis onderneem is. Die gevallestudie voorgehou in hierdie tesis sentreer rondom wat oor die algemeen na verwys word as “SASSA-Gate”, waar ’n potensiële nasionale krisis naelskraap afgeweer is toe die Konstitusionele Hof gedwing was om ’n reeds onwettige en ongeldige kontrak te verleng om te verseker dat die betaling van sosiale toelae aan ongeveer 17 miljoen begunstigdes sou voortgaan. Die basis van die krisis hou verband met die oorspronklike ongeldige kontrak, aangegaan tussen SASSA (die Suid-Afrikaanse Sosiale Sekuriteitagentskap) en Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in 2012, wat sedertdien omhul is in kontroversie en bewerings van korrupsie. Te midde van die “SASSA-Gate”-krisis (asook die hoofmotivering vir die toekenning van die ongeldige kontrak) is CPS se patentregtelike biometriese kaarttegnologie. Uit die navorsing het dit duidelik geword dat moontlike insigte verkry kan word vanuit die toepassing van die konseptualisering van “Staatskaping” op die immer-groeiende onsekerhede wat geassosieer word met die toekomstige ontwikkelingsontwrigtinge, soos daardie wat geassosieer word met die Vierde Industriële Revolusie (4IR). Hierdie navorsing is onderneem as beide ’n beskrywende en ondersoekende gevallestudie en word voorgelê in ’n kompakte narratiewe formaat. Granulêre navorsingsmetodologie is onderneem, waarvolgens verskeie databronne gekombineer en geanaliseer is vanuit verskeie perspektiewe en op verskillende vlakke; as sulks kan die navorsingsbevindinge nie maklik opgesom word nie. Die hooftuitkoms van die navorsing is die gevallestudie self. Die algehele doelwitte van die navorsing was primer om ’n omvattende beskrywing van die “SASSA-Gate”-krisis te verskaf en om die teoretiese raamwerk vir die begryp van die verskynsel van Staatskaping verder te ontwikkel, en hoe dit verband hou met neopatrimonialisme. Op die lange duur poog hierdie navorsing om meer kennis te bou rakende die huidige diskoers van Staatskaping in Suid-Afrika en om ’n broodnodige omvattende beskrywing te verskaf van hoe die skadu-regering naas en binne formele regeringstrukture werk en maneuvreer.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106067
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