Often referred to as a political scientist, Ivor Chipkin is the Executive Director of the Public Affairs Institute. He completed his PhD at the Ecole Normale Superieure in France and was based at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) between 2001 and 2004. He received an Oppenheimer fellowship in 2005 and took up a position at St Anthony’s college at the University of Oxford. He spent 4 years in the Democracy and Governance Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council where he developed an in-depth knowledge of government departments and agencies.
In 2017 he published an academic report into state capture with Mark Swelling “Betrayal of the Promise: How South Africa is being stolen”. The report was an influential investigation of events that helped galvanise resistance across society. The report detailed the systematic nature of state capture and marked a key moment in South Africa’s struggle for democracy. With unlimited evidence of corruption and the weakening of state and democratic institutions, it provided a powerful analysis of events that helped galvanise resistance within the Tripartite Alliance and across civil society.
Chipkin says the motivation for the report was to “join the dots” of the many journalistic accounts of corrupt activity that exist in the public domain, and to organise these into a single articulate account of state capture. The centrepiece of the analysis was the way in which the Zuma–Gupta political project turned against the Constitution, the law and South Africa’s democratic processes and institutions.
The report showed that the Jacob Zuma administration was not only a criminal network but part of an overconfident political project to break the hold of whites and white business in the economy. State-Owned Enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet were central to these plans. The report showcased how SOEs were `repurposed’ and how a `shadow state’ at odds with the country’s constitutional framework was being built.
The launch of the report on 25 May 2017 was covered live by eNCA. It was on all radio stations and numerous interviews with Chipkin and Swelling were conducted. It was front-page news in South Africa’s major daily and weekly publications, and it was the lead story in the Sunday newspapers.