McKinsey’s global chief’s Joburg gamble backfires. Spectacularly.

By Alec Hogg

My latest trip to South Africa was perfectly timed. Yesterday morning I had a front row seat as McKinsey’s new global chief Kevin Sneader celebrated his first week in office with a mea culpa in Johannesburg. It was a gamble that failed. Spectacularly.

Kevin Sneader

Sneader and his colleagues know South Africa is not in a forgiving mood. And that it may take years to heal what BLSA’s Bonang Mohale described as “the bone deep anger at State Capture”. McKinsey has become the focus of this fury. The reception Sneader got yesterday is sure to scare off other CEOs whose companies were fingered in the State Capture probes.

McKinsey’s boss said the two law firms it commissioned found no evidence of corruption. Judging by the mood, few of the 165 in GIBS’s auditorium believed him. Especially not Mohale who quipped that his countrymen won’t be satisfied until they see the corrupt wearing orange overalls at “the other Sun City”, nickname of a famous jail south of Johannesburg.

It’s clear that South Africa’s equivalent of Brazil’s eight year old Operation Car Wash has arrived. In the South American country more than 160 mostly powerful politicians and business executives have been arrested. Given the scale of the local malfeasance, Sun City warders should ready themselves for a flood of former VIP inmates.

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