Open Bell Pottinger disciplinary to public, DA urges | Fin24

Open Bell Pottinger disciplinary to public, DA urges

Jul 27 2017 14:58
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the disciplinary inquiry into the conduct of British PR firm Bell Pottinger to be open to the public.

DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said in a statement that it has written to the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to request that those who wish to attend should be able to do so, given the public interest in the matter.

The disciplinary inquiry, following the DA’s complaint that the PR firm violated the PRCA’s code of ethics, is set to take place on Friday August 18 in London.

Early in July, the DA lodged a formal complaint against Bell Pottinger on allegations that it was promoting racial hatred in South Africa. 

READ: DA lodges complaint against Bell Pottinger over 'racial division' 

In addition to the disciplinary inquiry, Bell Pottinger has hired law firm Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, to review the work it conducted for the Gupta family’s firm Oakbay.

News24 earlier reported that President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane met with Victoria Geoghegan, Bell Pottinger’s financial and corporate partner, to strategise a campaign aimed at marketing a “narrative that grabs the attention of the grassroots population who must identify with it, connect with it and feel united by it”. 

Earlier Geoghegan wrote to Duduzane that Bell Pottinger was keen to build a long-term partnership with Zuma, saying that the company want to stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” in communicating a vital message for South Africa, as the future of the country in terms of fair economic growth, an inclusive society and political stability, “depends on it”.

READ: Gupta firm's strategy to win back support for the Zuptas

Van Damme noted in the statement that according to Section 18 of the PRCA’s Arbitration and Disciplinary Procedure, "the proceedings of the Committee shall be held in private unless otherwise agreed by all parties".

“Given the public interest in this matter, the DA believes the hearing should be open to all those who wish to attend, including the media.”

She said the PRCA told the party that they will raise the issue with Bell Pottinger. The “all parties” also refers to the disciplinary committee and PRCA has therefore also requested permission from committee members as well.

“If Bell Pottinger is truly sorry for the damage they have done to race relations in our country by their divisive campaign, they will accede to the DA's request.”

READ: Crunch time for #BellPottinger over dirty tricks for Guptas' Oakbay

On July 6, Bell Pottinger issued a detailed statement apologising for the work done for the Gupta family and Oakbay Capital.

Van Damme said the South African people must be allowed to witness this disciplinary process, as they were the ones that suffered the consequences of Bell Pottinger’s, the ANC and the Guptas’ actions.

“People deserve to know the truth and the DA trusts that the Committee and Bell Pottinger will do the right thing and allow this disciplinary to be open to all.”

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