“When will the South African government do the same for our people?”, renowned whistle-blower Athol Williams said yesterday as pressure mounts on the South African government to act on Bain & Company’s role in state capture in South Africa.
This as the UK government on Tuesday suspended the consultancy group from public sector work after it tainted its hands with dodgy deals, involving the South African Revenue Service (Sars), among others.
Williams, who pointed out that the UK decision was a death knell for the global group, said the issue “is a case study of the cost of corruption”.
“The UK is Bain’s second-largest market. The US (is) their largest. The financial impact in the UK will be significant because UK companies will not want to work with a company banned by the government. Bain has revenues of $4 billion (R68bn) per year, most from the US. Sanctions there would cripple the business,” he said.
Williams said the external confirmation of Bain’s misconduct relates to both their collusion with President Jacob Zuma and their continued cover-up. It raises the urgency of the Zondo Commission’s recommendation that all Bain’s public sector contracts be investigated with a view to prosecution.
Bain was barred from bidding for British government contracts for three years for being “guilty of grave professional misconduct, which renders its integrity questionable”, Minister for Government Efficiency Jacob Rees-Mogg told Bain’s UK managing partner, James Hadley, according to recent reports.
UK Parliament legislator and former anti-apartheid activist Lord Peter Hain said yesterday that the fight to ostracise Bain was off to the US next.
"We are now asking the US government to do the same. I have contacted the ambassador to the UK (Jane Hartley) and I have been assured that the matter has been passed on to the administration in Washington DC. I hope President (Joe) Biden does the same,“ Hain said yesterday.
Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh said yesterday that the lethargy of the South African government towards Bain was troubling as it also had recommendations from the Zondo inquiry into state capture, which found that Bain should be prosecuted.
“This is low-hanging fruit, an opportunity for the administration to show its power. Government should be able to act on this. The paying back of the money was not enough, there is a damning indictment of improper conduct,” Singh said.
He said the matter of whistle-blower protection was also a campaign that needed to be accelerated, although there was a bill hovering in Parliament to facilitate the work of whistle-blowers.
Bain’s South Africa spokesperson, Nicole Wilson, would not respond to a request for comment.