There is deep irony in the description by certain cabinet ministers who said in the recent parliamentary debate that the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma was akin to a "back-door coup d’etat". This coup may have started a decade ago, when Zuma and his allies defeated Thabo Mbeki for the leadership of the ANC. It has crept upon SA in a series of deliberate moves to repurpose state institutions to serve rent-seeking networks that have set themselves up as a "shadow state" — an alternative to the constitutional one. It has been, in effect, a silent coup. This is the central argument of our report Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is Being Stolen. It arose out of the State Capacity Research Project and drew in academics from the universities of Cape Town, the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch and a journalist. It was released before the leak of more than 200,000 e-mails from the accounts of members and associates of the Guptas, who set themselves up as key...

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