DA confident after presenting its case against Guptas' former PR firm
Cape Town – The DA on Friday presented its case against the Guptas' former public relations firm Bell Pottinger, reiterating its call that “Bell Pottinger must declare all funds from their Gupta accounts and reinvest these profits to benefit South Africa's people such as a worthy charity”.
DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme travelled to London to present the DA’s evidence against Bell Pottinger in the Public Relations and Communications Association’s (PRCA) disciplinary hearing into the embattled PR firm’s conduct.
“The DA presented a solid case against the PR firm, on how it sought to exploit the already fragmented, race relations in our country. This to benefit the Guptas and the Zumas, in their quest to completely loot and plunder our public coffers,” she said in a statement on Friday afternoon.
“The DA is of the view that Bell Pottinger’s pro-Gupta propaganda campaign contravened the PRCA’s Codes of Conduct.”
The Committee will now meet for deliberations and the outcome of the hearing is expected to be announced within 14 days.
“The DA trusts that both the Committee and the Board will make the right decision that will begin to repair the damage Bell Pottinger caused in South Africa to the benefit of President Zuma and the Gupta family,” said Van Damme.
Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, said in a statement, “The PRCA has a robust and objective process for investigating any complaint made against a member.”
"The Committee has received written evidence from the Democratic Alliance and Bell Pottinger, and both organisations will have the opportunity to give oral evidence at the hearing. The PRCA will make a decision based on the evidence presented at the hearing, and on the recommendation of the Professional Practices Committee. The outcome of the investigation will be announced on or before the week commencing 4th September.”
The hearing can result in three broad scenarios.
Overrule the decision
The first possibility is that the complaint is not upheld, in which case the PRCA will publish the decision by August 24.
If the complaint is upheld with a disciplinary sanction, for example, a warning or reprimand, Bell Pottinger is given five working days to appeal the decision. If an appeal is made, the PRCA Board of Management will consider the report of the Professional Practices Committee alongside the appeal and will approve, amend or overrule the decision of the committee. The PRCA will then publish the decision on the week beginning September 4.
If the complaint is upheld with a sanction of termination or suspension of PRCA membership, the PRCA Board of Management will meet to consider the report. The board may approve, amend, or overrule the decision of the Professional Practices Committee. Bell Pottinger will then be given five working days to appeal the decision. Following the appeals period, the PRCA Board of Management may meet again if an appeal has been made and they may approve, amend, or overrule the decision of the Professional Practices Committee. The PRCA will then publish the decision on the week beginning September 4.
The DA’s complaint stems from the #GuptaLeaks, which revealed how the London-based PR firm assisted the Guptas - after meeting with Duduzane Zuma - to create a narrative meant to discredit the Guptas' many critics.
They also helped some ANC office bearers, like Collen Maine, leader of the ANC Youth League, with their speeches.
The firm cut its ties with the Guptas in April and after the leaks revealed the ambit of their work, issued an apology to South Africans.