How State Capture was “Aced” in the Free State – DA Provincial Leader, Roy Jankielsohn

In this gripping interview, the Democratic Alliance’s provincial leader, Roy Jankielsohn, exposes how state capture was “perfected” in the Free State under former premier Ace Magashule. He says the textbook for State Capture was written in the province. “And Jacob Zuma was merely a student who read that textbook and implemented it at a national level, obviously using companies and individuals, including the Gupta brothers. But they started their empire in the Free State,” Jankielsohn says. Don’t miss this eye-opening account of corruption, mismanagement, and its lasting consequences in the Free State.

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By Chris Steyn

“State Capture” in South Africa was “perfected” in the province of the Orange Free State.  So says the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) provincial leader, Roy Jankielsohn, who has spoken to BizNews about the legacy left by former Premier Ace Magashule, at one time the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) Secretary-General.

Magashule was last week found guilty of contravening the party’s constitution when he attempted to suspend  President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2021 – after he was temporarily suspended from the ANC until the final outcome of his court case in connection with a R255m corrupt tender scheme. It allegedly saw multiple high-ranking Free State government officials receive kickbacks from money meant to fund the removal of harmful asbestos from the homes of the province’s poorest residents. The ANC National Disciplinary Committee (NDC) has now recommended that Magashule be expelled from the party. 

“Yes, a lot of people say that (former President) Jacob Zuma perfected state capture, but state capture, I believe, was perfected in the Free State,” says Jankielsohn.

“..the textbook for state capture, if I could put it that way, was written in the Free State. And Jacob Zuma was merely a student who read that textbook and implemented it at a national level, obviously using companies and individuals, including the Gupta brothers. But they started their empire in the Free State.”

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Explaining how it happened, Jankielsohn says: m“…we’ve had various premiers in the Free State, but until Ace Magashule became premier, they were merely puppets of the national ANC government while Magashule was controlling the administration on the ground. 

“Ace Magashule as chairperson of the ANC in the Free State for many years, controlled not only the political party, the governing party, but also the other levers of power in the province…(and he) was able to – through his cadres – control, not only the administration of government, but also these lucrative contracts and tenders that were allocated in the Free State.

”And that’s why, for example, we had the issue of the Vrede Dairy project, which was one of the first Gupta-linked projects…which highlighted the whole issue of state capture.”

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Jankielsohn says Magashule’s legacy is still being felt today “because we know that corruption makes poor people poorer. And our Free State is much poorer as a result of this and it’s going to be very difficult for our current Premier who took over…last year to actually turn this province around- even though he might want to do so.” 

Meanwhile, Magashule is playing a prominent role in “destabilising” faction-fighting in the ANC in the province, something that is further hampering service delivery.

“The Free State is extremely divided between the rapid economic transformation, the RET, faction, which is run by Ace Magashule, and the other faction, which is now the current Premier (Mxolisi) Dukwana faction. And unfortunately, this division within the governing party also manifests itself through the cadres in the administration. 

“So when you have an unstable governing party and your senior positions, your employees in government are cadres of that party then obviously the instability within the party will manifest in our administrations at provincial government level, but also within our municipalities. 

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“And that’s why we also have the current service delivery problems within the Free State, because people are busy fighting political battles within the administration and service delivery comes second to that. And a lot of the battles today are also linked to lucrative tenders and contracts and the control of those because whoever is in power wants to have their turn to eat.”

In an update on the state of the province, Jankielsohn says 62% of the people in the Free State are living in poverty; a million people out of a population of 2.9 million are dependent on social grants; the unemployment rate stands at 34.4%; most sewage plants have collapsed completely; 33% of provincial roads are in an extremely poor condition; and two of the worst performing municipalities in the country are in the province.

However, Jankielsohn also shares a long list of positive developments in the Free State.

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