REVIEW | We’ve Bain warned: how a US firm cynically aided state capture
Corruption fatigue is high, but for the sake of SA we cannot allow it to bog us down, as this book proves
It is entirely understandable South Africans would think twice about picking up yet another book that exposes the inner workings of those who have stolen from us. After all, corruption fatigue is extremely high. However, if we become fatalistic about corruption and simply yawn when whistle-blowers tell their stories, revealing more evidence of continued looting, then the scourge will never go away. Criminals love a society of jaded citizens who have given up on oversight, accountability and justice. That is why we must stay with the detail. Our country cannot be fixed unless we refuse cynicism.
It is for this reason that Deep Collusion: Bain and the capture of South Africa (NB Publishers), written by whistle-blower and former Bain & Company partner Athol Williams, is necessary reading. Fortunately, it is not only an important read because of the subject matter, but also an enjoyable one because of the quality of the writing. It is rare for books of this type to be both compelling in terms of the evidence and written like a good work of fiction. Sadly, it is not escapist fantasy, but a realistic tale of what happens when a global management consulting company abandons its professed ethical values to make a profit at all costs.
Williams reveals how Bain came to SA with little public-sector experience, by the company’s own admission. Yet instead of building up expertise by developing an understanding of the context within which it was to operate, slowly drawing on skills from elsewhere in the world and, over time, building South African networks, the company short-circuited these processes, particularly with the help of its head of operations here, an overzealous man named Vittorio Massone...