London-based PR firm Bell Pottinger must face consequences for their collusion with the wealthy, politically connected Gupta family using a hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africans along the lines of race, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Saturday.
In a statement on the outcomes of the DA’s two-day federal executive (FedEx) meeting in Cape Town, he said the meeting had considered the ongoing scandal involving the Guptas and Bell Pottinger.
“It is greatly encouraging that our call for the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) to launch a disciplinary inquiry into Bell Pottinger’s racially fuelled propaganda campaign was heeded, and the inquiry will start on 18 August 2017.
“We have insisted that this inquiry be open to the public. This will ensure that Bell Pottinger faces legal consequences for their actions, and that justice will be served for their promotion of division and racial hatred for cheap political gain in a still deeply divided society. The DA will have public and legal representatives present at the hearing,” Maimane said.
Moreover, he had also personally written to a list of companies who procured the services of Bell Pottinger, urging them to terminate their relationship with the firm. Though legal action was effective, “corporations respond to their bottom line faster than they do to judges”.
“Bell Pottinger must face consequences for their collusion with the Guptas using a hateful and divisive campaign to divide South Africans along the lines of race. This was a co-ordinated campaign to further Gupta financial interests and ensure the captured ANC continued to provide lucrative contracts that lined Gupta pockets.
“South Africa is not a political playground where international corporations can disregard ethics to turn a profit. Bell Pottinger’s unethical compliance in these projects is unacceptable and the DA has taken steps to ensure they are held to account,” Maimane said.
Political party funding disclosure of opposition donors may pose major threat to multiparty democracy – DA
The disclosure of opposition party donors may well pose a major threat to multiparty democracy, Maimane said.
In a statement on the outcomes of the DA’s two-day federal executive (FedEx) meeting in Cape Town, he said the meeting had considered the recent developments around a renewed call for a fully transparent approach to political party funding.
Last month, the DA supported the establishment of an ad hoc committee in parliament to consider the funding of political parties.
“In practice, the disclosure of opposition donors may well pose a major threat to multiparty democracy,” Maimane said.
“This is often not understood by well-meaning groups and individuals who are unaware of the chilling effect full disclosure might have to democracy. This is because a strong opposition is vital to any flourishing democracy. However, complete transparency of all political party funding means that companies and individuals that do not fund the governing party, and choose to fund opposition parties, are at risk of being bullied and victimised by government.
“Examples abound where such punitive actions have been taken by the ANC and the fear this creates in potential donors is real. This is further evidenced how opposition parties in the SADC [Southern African Development Community] region have been punished by similar such legislation implemented by governing parties,” he said.
In addition to this, the DA objected to the ANCs submission for an increased allocation of government funding to political parties. The only motive behind this proposal was to save the ANC from bankruptcy, because its performance in government and its protection of corruption and patronage networks has led to financial support for the party drying up. It should also be noted that through its investment arm, Chancellor House, the ANC abused state tenders to enrich itself.
At the heart of the issue was whether there was any possible corrupt activities as a result of party funding, and at present the legislation governing such corrupt activities provided for strong action to be taken. The fact that little or no action had been taken was more a reflection of the failings of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) than the legislation itself.
“We will continue to ensure that vibrant multi-party democracy is defended and that the fig leaf covering the ANC’s real intention – to hobble opposition parties – is exposed,” Maimane said.
– African News Agency (ANA)