Edited by Felia Allum and Stan Gilmour
Chapter 20: South Africa: origins of the mafia state _ political transition, organised crime and the impact on democracy
The promise of democracy in South Africa has been subverted by the effective criminalisation of parts of the South Africa state. While much of the recent media attention focussed on the recent (and often breathtaking) goings-on around the presidency of Jacob Zuma, the linkages between criminal actors and politics arein fact a longer-term outcome of the intertwining of crime and politics which began before the transition to democracy, and continued after 1994. These linkages, which have occurred at multiple points in the country’s political economy, but crucially in the security establishment itself, have strengthened not only in a context of increasingly entrenched corruption and systems of political patronage, but also where the nascent institutions of democratic criminal justice have been critically weakened to protect its most senior perpetrators. The criminalisation of the state has been opposed by a loose coalition of honest civil servants, independent journalists, citizen action groups, opposition political parties and, most crucially, the judiciary. This has been at great cost to both institutions and individuals. The contestation around what is widely termed ‘state capture’ – and on occasion the ‘mafia state’ – continues under a new President who has sort to roll back its impact against a strong and criminalised set of interests both inside and outside of the state.
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