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The Criminalization of the State in Africa

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This book examines the growth of fraud and smuggling in African states, the plundering of natural resources, the privatization of state institutions, the development of an economy of plunder and the growth of private armies. It suggests that the state itself is becoming a vehicle for organized criminal activity.
The authors propose criteria for gauging the criminalization of African states and present a novel prognosis: they distinguish between the corruption of previous decades and the criminalization of some African states now taking place. Major operators are now able to connect with global criminal networks. Also, the notion of social capital has led to current attitudes towards the use of public office for personal enrichment, or even systematic illegality.
Looking at South Africa, the authors examine the decades-long tradition of association between crime and politics in this area. South Africa is now the centre of important international patterns of crime, notably in the drug trade. It has Africa's largest formal economy and the continent's largest criminal economy. Considering the economic origins of official implication in crime, the authors conclude that new forms of corruption have been unintentionally helped by liberal economic reforms.

In association with the International African Institute
North America: Indiana U Press

No US rights


The extent to which the trends identified in this book grow or diminish in importance and geographical extent seems to be a major determinant of the future of African politics. - John A. Wiseman in THE JOURNAL OF MODERN AFRCAN STUDIES
It is without doubt concerned with a topic of great importance, about which much is rumoured but little of analytical substance is written ... These are difficult questions and the authors must be applauded for having attempted to make sense of their complexities. - Patrick Chabal in INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
What is positive about this book is that it not only presents a number of cases but also shows their historical, economic and cultural connections. The present problems are seen from a wide perspective stemming from precolonial and colonial situations as well as the situations created by independence struggles and the reign of nationalistic governments. What is suggested is that all this should be viewed in the light of historical continuity rather than discontinuity. AFRICA THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL


First Published: 21 Jan 1999
13 Digit ISBN: 9780852558126
Pages: 144
Size: 21.6 x 13.8
Binding: Paperback
Imprint: James Currey
BIC Class: GTB

Details updated on 05 Oct 2015


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  From kleptocracy to the felonious state?
  • 3  The 'social capital' of the felonious state, or the ruses of political intelligence
  • 4  The new frontiers of crime in South Africa
  • 5  The 'social capital' of the state as an agent of deception, or the ruses of economic intelligence
  • 6  Conclusion