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BLSA accepts Bain & Co’s resignation in the wake of public backlash

Busi Mavuso, chief executive of Business Leadership South Africa. Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Busi Mavuso, chief executive of Business Leadership South Africa. Photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 19, 2022


BUSINESS Leadership South Africa (BLSA) has announced that it has accepted the resignation of Bain & Company from its membership as the business entity’s reputation has come under fire for its stance on the US management consulting firm.

This comes after the local unit of Bain was criticised for its consultancy work for the South African Revenue Services (Sars) at the peak of state capture.

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When the State Capture Inquiry’s report was released earlier this month, it was critical in its assessment of Bain’s consultancy work for Sars. The inquiry’s chairperson and acting Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, recommended that law enforcement agencies investigate how contracts were awarded to the firm.

In a statement, BLSA said it had noted Bain & Co’s decision to withdraw its membership. “We reaffirm BLSA’s commitment to ensuring that all those involved in state capture are appropriately held to account.

“We hope that as a society we can collectively direct our attention to seeking justice and amends for the damage to our country during the years of state capture and reforming our institutions to ensure it never happens again,” said the business lobby unit, headed by chief executive Busi Mavuso.

“We remain committed to supporting further capacity building where we can. Our goal is to contribute to raising the ethical standards of business.

“To that end, our members are all subject to our integrity pledge which prioritises the fight against corruption. We will continue to lead by example and support the fight against corruption alongside our social partners,” it said.

BLSA said it was active in supporting the country’s institutions to recover following the years of state capture.

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Former Bain partner Athol Williams, who testified at the inquiry against his former employer, told the media that keeping Bain as a member of BLSA was a “middle finger” to South Africans.

Bain & Co said in a statement on Monday that its membership in BLSA should not distract from the important work the organisation did on behalf of the business community for the good of South Africa.

Bain continued to defend itself, saying it was confident it did not willingly or knowingly support state capture at Sars. “We have noted the findings of Part 1 of the Zondo Commission’s report. Bain is supportive of the Zondo Commission and its work, as well as its important role in helping to end the damaging effects of corruption in South Africa.

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“We are, however, disappointed that Part 1 of the commission’s report mischaracterises Bain’s role at Sars,” the consulting firm said.

Last week, BLSA came under fire when critics, including the Black Business Council, called for Bain to be blacklisted from further government contracts for its role in furthering state capture.

BLSA defended keeping Bain as a member, citing the firm was not “inherently corrupt”. On social media, users also voiced their opinion on Bain leaving the BLSA membership.

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Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine tweeted: “Bain & Co has withdrawn from BLSA! This is a shame; it should have been sacked by BLSA!!! Bain much like McKinsey, KPMG, SAP, etc should withdraw from ‘business’, rebrand themselves as advisory firms destroying institutions of governance, promoting greed, corruption & social illfare.”

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