Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is being stolen


This is the famous report that came out in 2017 and that helped galvanise opposition to South Africa’s ‘silent coup’. It has been called one of the most important examples of how academic research can shape the public debate anywhere in the world. 

The report suggests South Africa experienced a silent coup in 2015 that removed the ANC from its place as the primary force for transformation in society. Commentators, opposition groups and ordinary South Africans had underestimated Jacob Zuma, not simply because he was more brazen, wily and brutal than they expected, but because they reduced him to caricature. They conceived of Zuma and his allies as a criminal network that had captured the state. This approach, which is unfortunately dominant, obscured the existence of a political project at work to repurpose state institutions to suit a constellation of rent-seeking networks that had been constructed and spanned the symbiotic relationship between the constitutional and shadow state. This was akin to a silent coup. This report documented how the Zuma-centred power elite had built and consolidated this symbiotic relationship between the constitutional state and the shadow state in order to execute the silent coup.

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