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For Whom The Bell Pottinger Tolls – reminder of Hemingway’s gradually…then suddenly

By Alec Hogg

Hard to believe it’s just six weeks ago since a dismissive James Henderson twice belatedly changed Monday’s scheduled appointment and then, just before the second meeting, got his secretary to tell me he was off on his hols.

Henderson, then Bell Pottinger’s CEO, saw no reason to explain himself over the damage his firm had caused South Africa. And wrote off client grumbles as a storm in a teacup. He might have done better to have heeded Ernest Hemingway’s warning in The Sun Also Rises – “How did you go bankrupt? Gradually, then suddenly.”

Yesterday’s news of Bell Pottinger’s bankruptcy will embolden those keen to spark South Africa’s version of Operation Car Wash – Brazil’s three year old corruption exposing project that has seen a President impeached and dozens of crony capitalist billionaires and their facilitating politicians sent to jail.

Pressure has been steadily building on the SA equivalents, particularly Gupta plunder facilitating multinationals KPMG. McKinsey and SAP. Just like Bell Pottinger, their global headquarters will soon realise they underestimated the resilience and passion of SA’s armada of activists. Gradually, then suddenly. Hope springs.

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