National 4.4.2017 12:09 pm

READ: Alleged full report of Bell Pottinger’s Gupta PR plan

Former Bell Pottinger executive Victoria Geoghegan. Picture: Twitter

Former Bell Pottinger executive Victoria Geoghegan. Picture: Twitter

The full alleged 21-page exposé of a plan by a UK-based PR company to save the Guptas’ image has apparently been leaked. Read it here.

Please note that The Citizen has not been able to verify whether this report is in fact authentic or a fake construction. It’s also unclear who penned this report and for whom. However, Amabhungane, the Mail & Guardian and the Sunday Times have been investigating these allegations for some time.

Former ANC MP and whistelblower Vytjie Mentor shared a link to this report on Tuesday morning, though she was not the person who uploaded it.

The background to this report is that the controversial UK-based public relations company Bell Pottinger has been accused of intentionally sowing the seeds of racial division in order to distract from allegations of state capture by the Gupta family and Zuma.

Bell Pottinger executive Victoria Geoghegan is considered central to the alleged PR plan.

The firm describes itself as the largest UK-based public relations consultancy measured by 2010 fee income.

Beth Summers, writing on an anti-corruption Facebook page, wrote over the weekend: “Bell Pottinger, the Public Relations company employed and paid by the Guptas, has always been a ‘faceless’ company in my mind. Good to put a face to one of their agents. They are the ones who have created fake Twitter accounts and also operate as agents on FBook.

“Their job is to make sure racist issues come up …. often … so that black and white SAfricans focus on this and get to hate each other. It also takes our eyes off what Zuma and the Guptas are up to (creates smoke screens).

“While we fight each other, they get on with the business of looting our country. Bell Pottinger has pushed the whole ‘white monopoly capital’ thing and the ‘radical economic transformation’ thing.

“They influence what we think with their fake tweets and posts on FBook (they pay agents to infiltrate political Groups).

“It is their JOB to create racial division between us….that way we are weak because we are divided. Zupta cannot have ALL SAfricans standing together because then we are STRONG. Their campaign has been very successful…..”

Bell Pottinger by Aldrin Sampear on Scribd

According to an investigation by the Sunday Times last month, Bell Pottinger took on the Gupta family as clients in 2016 to try to improve their image, and the chosen strategy was to target white business leaders as a distraction from serious allegations of state capture.

One of the strategies was apparently to drive a predominantly social media narrative that “white monopoly capital”, the SA Communist Party and National Treasury have been standing in the way of transforming the South African economy.

The phrase “white monopoly capital” has, over past months, become a major feature of mainstream political discourse, with even President Jacob Zuma using it.

Founding member of Bell Pottinger Tim Bell, however, reportedly left his own firm with key staff members, in apparent disgust over the plan.

He alleges that arms deal facilitator Fana Hlongwane and President Zuma’s Gupta-associate son Duduzane paid the firm 100 000 British pounds to start working and several meetings were allegedly attended by both men.

The paper said it had seen evidence of the PR plan (presumably including the document above) involving Andile Mngxitama and his Black First Land First Organisation, Mzwanele Manyi and his Decolonisation Foundation, and others.

The Bell Pottinger plan reportedly involved using, among other things, Twitter bots involved in a fake news campaign to support messages critical of white monopoly capital and be defensive of the Guptas.

Last year, South African billionaire businessman Johann Rupert claimed Bell Pottinger was behind an ongoing campaign to link him to “state capture” activities.

Geoghegan denied the claims made by the business magnate.

Manyi also told the Sunday Times that there was “no direct link” between himself, his foundation, Bell Pottinger or the Gupta family. He said that white monopoly capital “is first and foremost a reality in South Africa”.

Although Mngxitama did not give comment to the Sunday Times, he released numerous tweets about the article, among other things alleging that the paper was a “propaganda arm” for Rupert. He said Rupert provides “dirty funds” to the paper. He called the billionaire a “spoilt bret” who was upset that the Guptas had “taken” his “spin doctors”, Bell Pottinger, from him.

The Guptas, through their company Oakbay, dismissed the paper’s allegations as “fake news”.

Manyi took to Twitter to declare that he would be suing the Sunday Times. He also repeatedly tweeted that “White monopoly capital must fall!”

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