STATE capture by business is an interesting concept that has burst into our political parlance in the past few months. It is in the main a polite way of calling out the relationship between our head of state and the now infamous Gupta family, which has come under scrutiny lately.
While the Gupta family is probably the most visible monument to such capture, they are only a tip of the iceberg, as noted and acknowledged by the alliance summit a few months ago.
Does anyone remember the manipulation of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League leaders during the Fikile Mbalula and Malusi Gigaba eras by a member of the Kebble family?
Does anyone remember how they used to dole out millions to bankroll the league’s conferences, as well as turn some nonentities into millionaires?
Today, we have leaders shamelessly defending the Guptas while some tiptoe around their recklessness, which has embarrassed the movement on more than a few occasions, the landing of a plane full of wedding guests at Waterkloof being the most brazen.
And so, the feigned outrage comes from quarters that are well aware that state capture has manifested in many forms.
Among the signs of state capture by business are:
• Political leaders who are business people in their spare time. Inevitably, these leaders focus on their business interests and this taints their decision making as either legislators or implementers.
The horrible conflict of interest across state institutions is frightening, worse than daylight robbery.
• Public servants who do business with themselves through proxies, either for their own benefit or, in some instances, as extensions of their principals, to whom they are beholden for their jobs.
This turns the private purse into a public piggy bank and is where "wasteful" expenditure is actually wanton theft of state resources, a clear capture.
More than 2,000 such public servants are guilty of this conduct, according to a finding by the auditor-general as far back as 2009. Nothing has happened to them.
• Procurement officers who have turned state contracts into a money-making scheme.
This is a deliberate and well-orchestrated capture of the state by business individuals who profit merely by making sure tenders are awarded to the right people.
Some are well known, but have become untouchable.
• Politicians who use state tenders to fund their political campaigns. It is an open secret that some politicians instruct businesses to fund political parties in exchange for state tenders, and divert funds to the party.
Organisations such as the Progressive Business Forum are at the centre of such state capture, regardless of the veil of decency they are cloaked with. Nobody is fooled.
The public protector’s report into the shenanigans of an entity linked to Julius Malema in Limpopo is another example of this.
While there was no finding against him, he used to operate with impunity during his days with the ANC Youth League,.
The question is: who is the big cheese in that corrupt province that had to be placed under administration due to this habitual theft?
So as far as I am concerned, the Guptas are only doing what has become a part of our culture.
The blatant theft of state resources is inextricably linked to political interference and irrational decision making.
Gradually, we will see more attempts to plunder the family silver by capturing state institutions, as almost happened with the National Treasury last year.
For a new finance minister to pitch up with advisers in tow who had clear links to the Guptas shows we have reached a new level of impunity.
The stand-off between the Treasury and the South African Revenue Service under the watch of the president proves this.
• Tabane anchors Power Perspective on Power FM