DA gives Bell Pottinger till end of business day to respond

Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance is giving controversial PR firm Bell Pottinger until the end of the day to respond to a complaint they lodged against the firm for allegedly violating the Public Relations and Communications Association’s (PRCA) code of conduct which they are bound to.

“PRCA agreed to the DA’s request for an investigation into Bell Pottinger after the Gupta emails revealed that the company launched a racially charged propaganda campaign for the benefit of their clients, the Guptas,” DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said on Thursday.

According to Van Damme, clause four of the PRCA’s Charter stated that a member was required to take all reasonable care that professional duties were conducted without causing offence on the grounds of race or any other form of discrimination or unacceptable reference.

“Depending on whether there is substantive prima facie evidence, PRCA will either refer the matter to a committee or proceed with disciplinary procedures,” she said.

The party planned on holding a picket outside the agency’s offices in Holborn, London.

In April, Bell Pottinger cut its ties with the Guptas’ company Oakbay, telling the Financial Times that they became “the target of a politically driven smear campaign in South Africa over the last few months, with a number of totally false and damaging accusations levelled at it”.

The #GuptaLeaks revealed how the firm assisted the Guptas – after meeting with Duduzane Zuma – to create a narrative meant to discredit the Guptas’ many critics.

They also helped some ANC office bearers, like Collen Maine, leader of the ANC Youth League, with their speeches.

Last Thursday, the firm’s chief executive James Henderson apologised for the work the company did for the Gupta family and Oakbay Investments.

“We have good, decent people who will be as angered by what has been discovered as we are. We wish to issue a full, unequivocal and absolute apology to anyone impacted. These activities should never have been undertaken. We are deeply sorry that this happened.”

However, the DA has said an apology was simply not enough and took it as an admission of guilt. They urged all London-based South Africans to join the picket outside the firm’s offices.

A memorandum demanding that all profits made from the firm’s Gupta-linked business deals be put towards building schools, or any developmental non-government organisations in South Africa, would also be handed over to the firm, Van Damme said.

“Sowing racial divisions in our country, which will have lasting implications on the social fabric of our society, cannot be allowed to stand.

“Those responsible must be held accountable for this damaging campaign and the DA will continue to ensure this is done.” DM


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