This article asserts that the concept of governance is inherently complex, and
its practice elusive, for both developing and developed countries alike. Whereas
democratisation experiments enforced a shift from government to governance due
to recognition of the multiplicity of actors, the move was simultaneously undergirded
by configuration of power relations and authority that legitimised informalisation.
The latter meant that formal constitutional and statutory institutional frameworks of
governance would be overcompensated by complex informal networks that shaped
the party-state-society interactionism in favour of distributive regimes and patronage.
For former colonies that experienced extended periods of liberation struggles,
democratisation and liberationist-democratic experimentation were exploited to
legitimise infusion of informal governance for the governing party, state and society
triad in favour of the elite and private commercial interests. A democratic South
Africa involves a society that is dominated by self-entitlement psychology wherein
actors have astronomically secured exponential regulatory, decisional and discursive
powers over the state itself, with the result that the claims of state capture have come
to dominate headlines over twenty years after democratisation. This article concludes
that the current public contestations in a democratic South Africa about President
Zuma, Constitutional Court Ruling on the Public Protector’s Nkandla findings, the
recklessness of the resources-squandering State-owned Enterprises, the executive’s
encroachment into and abuse of apparatus of state for political ends, ill-discipline in
the governing party and so on, are symptomatic of a steeply informalised governance
that operates through complex networks, largely beyond the reproach of formal
constitutional and statutory institutional frameworks.