Patronage, state capture and oligopolistic monopoly in South Africa: The slide from a weak to a dysfunctional state?


  • Pieter Labuschagne University of South Africa



State capture, Corruption, Function of government, Political sciences


The aim of the article is to investigate the phenomenon of state capture from a political perspective. In the literature, discussions around state capture are
principally done from an economic context, not from a political perspective. The viewpoint in the article is that a more multi-faceted political approach is necessary, because the eroding of the role of the state is essentially a political problem. The phenomenon of state capture should therefore receive more scholarly attention within the political sciences, so the focus of this article is on addressing the problem of state capture within a political context. Here, the link between corruption and state capture is outlined and the difference between the two concepts is shown to be only a matter of degree.
In the case of corruption the outcome is uncertain, while in the event of state capture the outcome is more definite as a result of the control an external agent exerts over a political functionary. The article also addresses the important tipping point, when a weak state – with high levels of corruption – lapses into a dysfunctional state. The finding is that the degradation from a weak to a dysfunctional state occurs during state capture when resource allocation – a core function of government – is controlled by outside agents. In the concluding section reference is made to the Public Protector’s report and its alignment with the theoretical features of state capture.


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