It was May 2017 in Cape Town. The public enterprises committee of parliament was holding its sitting at the Townhouse Hotel. That hotel has become something of a staple for government employees needing accommodation in Cape Town, and for NGO seminars and other meetings. Ironically, it is diagonally opposite the old Institute for Democracy in Africa (Idasa) building at Spin Street in the heart of the CBD. The atmosphere was tense, not only in the hotel, but in the country as a whole. The talk was of state capture: a small coterie of politically connected people had drawn influential leaders into their fold, and were allegedly extorting funds and favours from the state. This had a particular significance for the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) since they handled billions of rand and were the dispensers of multibillion-rand deals in tenders. What had brought the committee to the Townhouse were shenanigans at Eskom, SA’s power utility and a tempting prize for unscrupulous opera...

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