Controversial PR firm, Bell Pottinger, has dropped the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments as a client, citing widespread political attacks on the company, after reports emerged claiming the company was purposefully causing racial tensions in the country.
The Sunday Times reported in March 2016 on a document that was doing the rounds among politicians, detailing an alleged plan by Bell Pottinger to cause racial tensions to distract from the activity of the Gupta family.
While the PR firm was employed by Oakbay, the report stated that the group was really working for the Gupta family, and had the full support of president Jacob Zuma to do what it takes to deflect any heat on the ‘state capture’ scandal.
This would be accomplished by using social media campaigns, publicly attacking president Zuma and the Guptas’ opponents, and pushing the notion that those who stood against them were doing so at the behest of “white monopoly capital”.
In a statement released on Wednesday, amid further protests against president Zuma, Bell Pottinger’s chief executive James Henderson told the Financial Times that the company’s decision to quit was “totally linked to the attacks on us” in South Africa.
“It has been alleged that whilst we were contracted to Oakbay we were primarily working for the Gupta family with the full approval and involvement of President Zuma. This is completely not the case,” he said.
“We have never embarked on any of these smearing, racist and politically abusive activities we have been accused of.”
The accusations levelled against Bell Pottinger were further supported by South African billionaire, Johann Rupert, who was a previous client of the firm. Rupert said that former Bell Pottinger employees who had worked with him had informed him of the firm’s plans to make him the ‘poster child’ of white monopoly capital.
Rupert called the firm “experts in disinformation”.
Bell Pottinger, PR agency to the world’s worst scum, are not getting much ❤️ pic.twitter.com/NJsTBUuYzr
— IG: richpoplak (@Poplak) April 7, 2017