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Bell Pottinger probed for stoking racial tension in SA

04 July 2017 - 09:06 By Timeslive
Duduzane Zuma allegedly procured the services of Bell Pottinger. File photo.
Duduzane Zuma allegedly procured the services of Bell Pottinger. File photo.

An international public relations association has launched an investigation into allegations that UK spin machine Bell Pottinger promoted racial hatred in South Africa.

Bell Pottinger‚ whose services were allegedly procured by Duduzane Zuma in his capacity as a Gupta employee‚ is a member of two international public relations bodies with codes of conduct.

“We can confirm that we have received a complaint against Bell Pottinger‚ filed by Democratic Alliance‚” said a statement by Francis Ingham‚ director general of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) in the UK.

“Bell Pottinger has been notified of this. We will now begin the formal process set out in the PRCA Professional Charter and Code of Conduct to investigate this alleged complaint.”

The DA wrote to PRCA and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)‚ urging them to investigate allegations against the UK-based company.

TimesLIVE reported earlier that party spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme said the company appeared to have tried to divide and conquer the South African public by exploiting racial tensions in a bid to keep President Jacob Zuma and the ANC in power.

In one of the numerous leaked Gupta emails‚ Nick Lambert‚ a senior advisor at Bell Pottinger‚ identified “key moments” in a speech delivered by ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine. They included a quote‚ “Those who want to disrupt the State of the Nation speech must prepare themselves for a civil war.”

The PR firm‚ which has denied allegations of wrongdoing‚ cut ties with the Guptas in April after coming under intense public scrutiny and has since locked its Twitter account.

The PRCA Professional Charter and Code of Conduct calls on members to “not disseminate false or misleading information knowingly or recklessly”.

“A member is required to take all reasonable care that professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender‚ race‚ religion‚ disability or any other form of discrimination or unacceptable reference‚” it says.