Ramaphosa: Bell Pottinger has sown division in SA

The UK company last week confirmed that its lead partner on the Gupta Oakbay Capital account was sacked and that three others were suspended.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the SACP’s 14th National Congress in Boksburg on 12 July 2017. Picture: Twitter/@SACP1921

JOHANNESBURG - African National Congress (ANC) deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa has hit out at PR firm Bell Pottinger, accusing it of sowing divisions in the country.

But he says those who fell for the company's stories are also gullible.

“Some of us were so gullible, so believing and had so much faith in stories that were crafted in London brought here to confuse us. It is a shame on us.”

He addressed the South African Communist Party (SACP)’s elective conference in Boksburg on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa says everyone must be concerned that a foreign public relations company was able to effectively poison the political discourse of the country to advance what he calls their own narrow interests.

“It says much about our lack of political cohesion and ideological clarity that Bell Pottinger was able to manipulate some of our own political concepts to fuel confusion and division amongst us.”

The UK company last week confirmed that its lead partner on the Gupta Oakbay Capital account was sacked and that three others were suspended.

But there are mounting calls for further action to be taken against the company - or for it to take greater accountability.
A string of leaked emails revealed that the company also helped the MK Military Veterans Association and the ANC Youth League in their campaigns to discredit critics of President Jacob Zuma and the Guptas.

The company was forced to react as it has been accused of stirring racial tension in South Africa through work it’s done for the Gupta family.

While the company issued an apology last Thursday, it seems to have done little to change many South Africans’ opinions of the infamous agency.

The African National Congress labelled the agency as “vultures”, saying it had scavenged on the country’s failures to address inequality and transform the economy.

The Democratic Alliance welcomed the agency’s apology, but says it was insincere and little more than a stunt due to mounting pressure against it.

The Economic Freedom Fighters rejected the apology, while the Freedom Front Plus vowed to lodge a criminal case against the company.