The DA welcomes the Public Relations and Communications Association’s (PRCA) decision to terminate Bell Pottinger’s membership from the PR regulatory body with immediate effect.
This, following a complaint by the DA that Bell Pottinger exploited racial tensions in South Africa on behalf of the Gupta family, and Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son.
The PRCA Board of Management unanimously concluded that Bell Pottinger breached Clauses 1.1 and 4 of the PRCA Professional Charter and Clauses 12 and 13 of the PRCA Public Affairs and Lobbying Code.
This expulsion is very serious indeed, and only the second such instance in over a decade.
The DA commends PRCA for the transparent and professional manner in which they pursued this matter.
This sanction is the most serious penalty a firm can face and is of significant reputational damage for the embattled spin doctors. The PRCA found that not only did Bell Pottinger fail “to maintain and protect its own reputation” but also “the standing of the profession as a whole”.
What this means, is that while Bell Pottinger will still be able to conduct PR work internationally, it can no longer do so with the honour of being a member of Europe’s largest and most influential PR and communications membership body. This will cause a major knock in their credibility, and no doubt, their bottom line.
The DA thanks the people of South Africa for making it loud and clear that unethical conduct by private companies in aid of corrupt individuals will not be tolerated.
It will take our country years to rebuild our severely fragile race relations, which Bell Pottinger, the Guptas and the Zumas sought to exploit for their own financial gains.
This ruling is by no means an indication that Bell Pottinger is off the hook just yet. Bell Pottinger must take responsibility for their actions and disclose all information regarding their Oakbay Capital account and reinvest all monies from their Oakbay account back into South Africa.
The DA is exploring further steps that can be taken to force the full disclosure.
Phumzile Van Damme MP
DA Shadow Minister of Communications