Ramaphosa hits out at Bell Pottinger

12 July 2017 - 17:31 By Neo Goba

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is the latest African National Congress leader to hit out at public relations company Bell Pottinger for tarnishing South Africa's image.

Addressing the South African Communist Party’s national congress‚ he accused the UK-based company which was engaged by the Gupta family of sowing racial divisions in the country.

"It is a matter of great concern that a public relations company comrades… from outside our country was able to so effectively poison the political discourse in our country [and] in our movement to drive their own personal narrow interest.

“It says much about our lack of political cohesion and ideological quality that this company‚ Bell Pottinger‚ was able to manipulate some of our own political concepts to spew division and confusion amongst us‚" Ramaphosa told delegates on day three of the congress.

"Some amongst us were so gullible‚ so believing… had so much faith in slogans that they crafted in London and were brought here to confuse us and they so held on these slogans as if they were prepared to die just for the slogans that were crafted by Bell Pottinger. It is a shame on us‚" said Ramaphosa to applause.

His remarks come less than a week after the SACP rejected an apology from Bell Pottinger‚ saying it was not good enough and that the company must be held accountable for its actions.

Bell Pottinger chief executive James Henderson on Thursday apologised for the work the company did for the Gupta family and Oakbay Investments.

But the SACP was not convinced that the apology was genuine.

"The SACP rejects Bell Pottinger's so-called apology as insincere and trivial. The propaganda company must account for the harm it has caused to our country and our movement from its dubious activities in association with‚ and at the service of the Guptas‚" the ANC's tripartite alliance partner said in a statement.

The SACP hit out at the PR firm‚ saying it was an "imperialist propaganda company" and ordered the company to give it a direct apology.

The UK-based public relations firm officially cut ties with Gupta-owned Oakbay on April 12‚ saying its ability to be an effective advocate for the company had been compromised.

The company was hired by the Gupta family in 2016 amid claims of state capture‚ after then deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas revealed that members of the family had offered him the post of finance minister.