The similarities between apartheid-era corruption and contemporary corruption are clear, even in today's democratic South Africa, supposedly accountable to its citizens. Corruption is old, but now wears a new face. And the Guptas did not challenge Western capitalist hegemony as some have suggested. They, and other business networks like them, perpetuate a system that rewards elites at the expense of the poor, who rely on state resources to survive.
Far from being the leader in human rights that was South Africa post-1994, the prevailing state is often cast by the media as inherently corrupt. As if corruption were a new phenomenon in our country. This engenders a view that associates racial identity with corruption, which entrenches Western supremacy. Simply put, black governments are corrupt because they are filled with black people.
But corruption present during apartheid endures, where connections between private networks and state structures conspire for ill-gotten gain. Global systems of business elites, aided by state officials, extract every morsel of value from public resources for narrow ends. In South Africa, the Guptas imitate the manoeuvres of established Western elites, for example constructing shell companies as platforms for tax evasion and money laundering from illicit financial flows.