As the head of Wits Mining, the last major mining company to do an empowerment deal, Max Sinclair has a mandate from the board and a clear directive: to sell a share of the company to a black consortium. Born and bred in the city that remains, at heart, a mining camp built on gold and the greed of men, Max is used to being a player in the high-stakes game of deals and political influence, and he keeps his cards close to his chest.
There is no shortage of takers for the deal. A shareholding spells possible riches for some – like Sifiso Lesibe, geologist and newest member of the board – and increased influence for others, such as the Pradesh family. Support for the deal from government is crucial, particularly when it comes to mining and mineral rights. Politics, power and money are an irresistible combination. Mistrust is everywhere and nothing is as it seems.
Former human rights lawyer Musa Madondo has seen the rise and fall of many a former comrade and he knows he is not immune to the tug of temptation. When Walter Berryman, a former client and friend, comes to Musa for professional advice, in fear of his life after having stumbled across evidence of large-scale industry collusion, he finds himself drawn into an underworld of intrigue and sophisticated espionage every bit as ruthless and deadly in the present day as it was during the country’s struggle for liberation. And in Johannesburg, as in politics, things change in an instant.
Bare Ground is the third book authored by Peter Harris. In a Different Time (2008; winner of the Alan Paton Non Fiction award) was about the 1980s and an extraordinary treason trial. The second book, Birth (2011), was about the extreme challenges that South Africa encountered in getting to and conducting the 1994 election. This novel, located in the cauldron of Johannesburg, is about the society we have become.