Israeli firm tells why it ditched Bell Pottinger
Publish date: 07 August 2017
Issue Number: 737
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: State Capture
A small Tel Aviv-based reputation management company sub-contracted by Bell Pottinger to promote the Gupta family and Oakbay in South Africa ditched the London-based multinational when it learnt it had been implicated in state capture in South Africa, according to a Daily Maverick report. It says Ran Blayer, CEO of Veribo, a boutique online reputation management company, confirmed last week that Bell Pottinger had been one of its customers. ‘Bell Pottinger hired us in connection to their customer, Oakbay and the Gupta family,’ Blayer confirmed, adding, ‘We learned earlier this year of what is really going on in South Africa and terminated work on Gupta/Oakbay. We have since read more (of) what has been going on in South Africa. This is shocking and unacceptable to us. We now regret our involvement with these individuals.’ Meanwhile, notes the report, DA national spokesperson and shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile van Damme, who has been at the forefront of ensuring Bell Pottinger face some sort of inquiry, was last week finalising statements to be dispatched to the UK industry body the Public Relations and Communications Association, which will be conducting the probe, which starts on 18 August.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane says he has personally written to companies, urging them to terminate their relationship with Bell Pottinger. Maimane said public and legal representatives of the DA would be present at a disciplinary inquiry into the racially-fuelled propaganda campaign Bell Pottinger had conducted on behalf of the Guptas, notes a TimesLIVE report. He said it was greatly encouraging that the Public Relations and Communications Association had heeded the DA’s call for the inquiry.