Bell Pottinger guilty of breaching association’s codes with ‘white monopoly capital’ campaign

24 August 2017 - 16:23 By Graeme Hosken
Bell Pottinger logo. File photo.
Bell Pottinger logo. File photo.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Bell Pottinger‚ the controversial international public relations firm linked to the Gupta family‚ has been found to have breached the codes of the UK-based Public Relations and Communications Association.

But‚ while the firm has been found to have contravened at least one of the association's codes‚ it is still not known what action‚ if any‚ will be taken against the company.

The association‚ according to the website PRWeek‚ will release its findings and rulings on September 4.

The Democratic Alliance had taken Bell Pottinger to the association and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations over allegations that the firm was guilty of inciting racial hatred in South Africa.

Bell Pottinger is a member of both organisations which have strict codes of governance.

The DA has alleged that the PR firm worked for the Guptas and devised a strategy of protest against "white monopoly capital" to allegedly divert attention away from criticism of the Gupta family's activities and that such action violated the two organisations code of conduct.

The DA's Phumzile Van Damme said in a statement that they received confirmation that the party's complaint against Bell Pottinger had been upheld.

"This means that the PRCA Professional Practices Committee has agreed that Bell Pottinger did indeed violate its Professional Charter‚ and/or its Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct." She said Bell Pottinger would be given five days to appeal the decision if it so chose.

"If Bell Pottinger appeals‚ the PRCA’s Board of Management will consider the appeal and either approve‚ amend‚ or overrule the decision by the Professional Practices Committee and then publish the final decision during the week beginning 4 September 2017."

Van Damme said the DA looked forward to the PRCA’s full decision regarding disciplinary action against Bell Pottinger.

She said that during Bell Pottinger's work for Oakbay Capital‚ the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma’s son‚ Duduzane Zuma‚ the company exploited the already sensitive race relations in South Africa.

"A strong message must be sent to the PRCA that unethical conduct by its members will not be tolerated. We trust that a strong sanction will be given against Bell Pottinger.

"We reiterate our call for Bell Pottinger to do the right thing and disclose all Gupta contracts and monies from their accounts with the Guptas and reinvest it into South Africa."