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‘State capture’

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‘State capture’

The corruption investigation that has shaken South Africa

The Guardian,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Post-apartheid South Africa has gone down the dark path of “state capture.” 

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Eye Opening
  • Background


“State capture” may sound like an academic concept; but in South Africa, it has become a terrible reality. It refers to private companies colluding with public officials to shape the country’s institutions in their favor. Reporter Mark Gevisser details how South Africa’s post-apartheid regime has proceeded down the dark path of state capture, using the high-profile corruption inquiry against businessman and former anti-apartheid movement supporter Gavin Watson – who since the publication of the article has died in a car accident giving rise to speculations about a possible assassination.


Gavin Watson is a white South African who played a prominent role in the country’s anti-apartheid movement. After the end of the apartheid regime, Watson leveraged his personal ties with members of the newly-elected African National Congress to secure lucrative government contracts and mining concessions for his many companies – among them, the logistics firm Bosasa. By putting black people in charge of the companies, Watson managed to take advantage of the post-apartheid government’s “black economic empowerment” program designed to benefit South Africa’s economically disadvantaged black majority. Between 2010 and 2016, Bosasa earned government contracts worth $...

About the Author

Mark Gevisser is a journalist and author of Lost and Found in Johannesburg: A Memoir.

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