Summary of “They Eat Money”

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“They Eat Money” summary

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South Africa’s peaceful transition to democracy is widely considered a success story, but since the end of apartheid the country has suffered from endemic corruption. New York Times reporters Norimitsu Onishi and Selam Gebrekidan take an in-depth look at a government-sponsored dairy farm project in the impoverished South African town of Vrede that became a symbol for large-scale state corruption. getAbstract recommends their article to those curious about the details of the corruption scandal that contributed to the downfall of former South African president Jacob Zuma.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a failed dairy farm project became a symbol of corruption in South Africa and
  • How South Africa’s transition to democracy facilitated its present corruption problem. 
 

About the Authors

Norimitsu Onishi is the Johannesburg bureau chief of The New York Times. Selam Gebrekidan is a New York Times reporter.

 

Summary

In 2012, Free State’s provincial minister of agriculture, Mosebenzi Joseph Zwane, offered landless black farmers in the town of Vrede a stake in a dairy farm and free training in India as a way of lifting them out of poverty. But, in the end, what sounded like a life-changing opportunity was revealed as nothing more than a classic example of the brand of fraud commonplace in South Africa today. The lucrative government contract to build the dairy farm went to Estina – a company with no experience in farming. Estina had close ties to the Guptas, an Indian-born South African business family. During his nine years in office, President Jacob Zuma allegedly awarded many highly favorable government contracts to members of the Gupta family and gave them a say in the hiring of government officials. 

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