An Appeal for Constructive Dialogue
To the South African community,
Over the last four years, you have heard and read a lot about Bain & Company. Some of it is true, but much of it is not. Recent headlines have made clear the need to communicate directly with you.
Like you, I am South African. I lead Bain’s business in South Africa, where we employ over 80 people, the overwhelming majority of whom are South Africans and only two of whom were involved – as junior staff members - in Bain’s work at the South African Revenue Service (SARS) from 2015-2017. We all joined Bain to help South African organisations grow, innovate, and excel.
We apologise to you. Bain made serious mistakes in the procurement and execution of our work at SARS, and we kept working even as it became clear that the SARS leadership had a different agenda. Our work was used by others to further their agenda of state capture at SARS. SARS was a source of pride for South Africans and we regret playing any role in the damage to this critical institution.
In 2018, prior to the conclusion of the Nugent Commission, we apologised and repaid all fees received from SARS. We installed new local, regional, and global leadership and upgraded our governance processes to ensure this could never happen again.
We stopped all public sector work in South Africa and have not done any since. The private sector reacted swiftly, stopping work with us and insisting that we address our shortcomings. Some companies have resumed work with us, but only after rigorously reviewing our remedial actions.
Unfortunately, a false narrative has emerged about Bain that goes far beyond our actual failures and paints us as the embodiment of all state capture that occurred during the Zuma administration. This story is speculative and has been provided by people with no first hand knowledge of the work.
No matter the narrative, we are accountable for our mistakes at SARS. We detail our mistakes and separate the fact from the fiction at www.bain.com/sars.
We want to improve our standing in the community. We started proactively reaching out to South African authorities in 2018 to offer our cooperation. We are prepared to have the tough conversations and we appeal to Government, the business community, and civil society to engage with us on a way forward. We are ashamed of what happened at SARS, but we would like to get back to the work of helping the South African economy grow.
Like you, I want nothing more than to see our country thrive. I know regaining South Africa’s trust will not be easy. We hope you will give us the opportunity to do so.
Managing Partner, Bain South Africa