The man who saw through Bain's spin and 5 highlights from 'Vrye Weekblad'

Here's what's hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

14 February 2020 - 08:16 By timeslive
Athol Williams will soon testify at the Zondo commission about Bain & Company.
Athol Williams will soon testify at the Zondo commission about Bain & Company.
Image: SUPPLIED

Athol Williams says he is a “regular guy from Mitchells Plain”. But isn't all that regular. He has a string of degrees from the world's top universities and is a senior lecturer at UCT and research fellow at Stellenbosch University.

He is also the fellow who didn't fall for Bain & Company's spin on allegations over its role in state capture and the decimation of the revenue service.

And now he is off to the Zondo commission to explain what he found there.

He used to work at Bain. Three times. And he was a partner in the firm. In between his three stints at the company, he gathered degrees and focused on business ethics. That's his thing; he says he's the “ethics guy”. 

And that is why Bain & Company asked him to help them with the “moral and legal” mess they found themselves in after their catastrophic contact with Sars under the reign of Tom Moyane. Not only did they mess up their own reputation, but they also dragged the entire consultation business through the mud with them.

Williams' revelations gave the company a hard knock. He handed his information over to Judge Nugent's commission of inquiry into tax administration and management and was very open in the media about what he had found.

“If you want an ethical and moral cleanse, like Bain led me to understand they wanted, you have to be willing to admit to the damage you have done,” he says.

In a month or two he will appear in front of Judge Raymond Zondo about what he says is Bain's refusal to admit complicity in state capture and the plundering of Sars.

Read all about it in this week's edition of Afrikaans digital weekly Vrye Weekblad.


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He seems slightly apprehensive.

“There is absolutely no support for whistle-blowers in SA,” he says. “You have to figure it out yourself as you go along.”

He says for him it was an easy decision to reveal the truth and he never calculated the personal cost.

“I think one of the biggest reasons why we are going to lose the struggle against corruption in SA is because there is no mechanism for people to do the right thing when they see state capture or corruption without suffering great personal cost. Most whistle-blowers so far were women, and the moment they spoke out, they lost their jobs or were frozen out,” he says.

“I can't think that any of them didn't ask themselves later if it was really worth it.”

Athol Williams is not asking himself that question yet. But that may come soon.

Read the full article in this week's Vrye Weekblad


Must-read articles in this week's Vrye Weekblad

THE WEEK IN POLITICS | Max du Preez writes about Donald Trump's disdain for the truth and democracy and his local clones, and the year of the Orange Overalls.

HOMEOWNERS MILKED | The state is throwing another R20bn at struggling municipalities for which developers, and ultimately homeowners, will have to pay. Jaco Visser tries to make sense of it.

FREE TO READ — ZIM OWES US | Zimbabwe owes SAA as much as R1.8bn due to travellers exploiting the difference between the official and the black market value of the Zimbabwean currency. Peta Thornycroft explains how it worked.

POST OFFICE IN PERIL | Just when we thought things were on the up and up at the Post Office, the acting CEO got fired. The woes are not over yet, writes Willem Kempen.

IS THIS LOVE? | True love takes time and gets stuck in the nooks and crannies of your being. You could love anything if you have it for long enough, writes Ronelda S Kamfer.

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