Last year ended on a high note politically, with the sense that Cyril Ramaphosa may lift the gloom over the capability of the South African state. However, the challenges of corruption and state integrity cannot be underestimated, and a review of the immense effort required to change things after apartheid is a reminder of how much work has gone into the postapartheid transition. Two key books published late last year, Crispian Olver’s How to Steal a City and Jacques Pauw’s All the President’s Keepers reminded us how important it is to protect and build on SA’s achievements of 23 years, and to identify where further reforms can and must be made. This theme is taken up in Building a Capable State – Service Delivery in Post-apartheid SA, published by UCT Press/Juta, which provides a critical assessment of the record and capacity of government in the areas of service delivery that affect the everyday lives of residents. The analysis in the book is a reminder of the costs of corruption,...

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