On their journey to the dark side, President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas have picked up many passengers. The parastatal board members and executives who have orchestrated vast transfers from the fiscus to the Guptas; the prosecutors, police officers and tax collection officials who have turned a blind eye to theft, embezzlement, private spying and violent intimidation; the raft of national, provincial and local government politicians and public servants who have diverted funds from legitimate public projects. Do these people believe in what they are doing? Or do they understand themselves as mere thieves? The answers to these questions are more than academic. If they regard themselves as thieves they are no more than nihilists, people who care only what happens to this generation and perhaps the next; after that, they don’t give a damn. If they are true believers, they genuinely think that they are making a better world. The difference matters because it shapes what they will do next....

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