International consultancy firms operating in SA during the Zuma presidency haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. Bain & Co is the latest to find itself in trouble, and like McKinsey before it, it risks being caught napping as events unfold, turning what at first looked like a localised SA story into one with international dimensions, with them in a starring role. It’s not the first time the company has courted controversy in dealings with companies in SA, but the political intrigue and twists that have emerged in the Nugent inquiry into governance and administration at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) will come as a shock even to the most sceptical observers of how the country was run during the time Jacob Zuma was in power.

Vittorio Massone, Bain’s managing partner in SA, wasn’t exactly a household name before the latter parts of last week. But he has emerged as a smooth political operator who ingratiated himself with powerful political players and landed contracts that w...

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