Bell’s sanc­tion ‘com­mend­able’

It’s start of mas­sive clean-up – Fu­tureSA

The Sunday Independent - - NEWS - DUN­CAN GUY AND ANA

BELL Pot­tinger’s ex­pul­sion this week from Bri­tain’s Pub­lic Re­la­tions and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions As­so­ci­a­tion (PRCA) should serve as a warn­ing to lo­cal PR com­pa­nies to re­search new clients, its equiv­a­lent South African body has warned.

“They should also un­der­stand the scope of the work they will have to do,” said Kavitha Kalicha­ran, pres­i­dent of the Pub­lic Re­la­tions In­sti­tute of South­ern Africa.

She called the Bri­tish body’s de­ci­sion “com­mend­able”.

“We fully sup­port the sanc­tion that was handed down to Bell Pot­tinger.

“It speaks for it­self that it was the most se­ri­ous sanc­tion de­liv­ered.”

Kalicha­ran added that Prisa would have fol­lowed the same route, had it been in PRCA’s shoes, and that non-com­pli­ance hap­pened in any in­dus­try.

“We’ll al­ways have some who op­er­ate un­eth­i­cally.”

Ear­lier dur­ing the saga, when it was dis­cov­ered that Bell Pot­tinger had fos­tered racial di­vi­sions in South Africa in the pro­mo­tion of its client, the Gupta-owned Oak­bay, Kalicha­ran said the saga had high­lighted the need for reg­u­la­tion of the pub­lic re­la­tions in­dus­try and for all pro­fes­sion­als to ad­here to the code of ethics.

“Prisa finds it dis­heart­en­ing that a lack of ac­count­abil­ity has been demon­strated,” she said.

The con­tro­ver­sial Gupta fam­ily is said to be linked to state cap­ture.

Bell Pot­tinger pro­moted the term “white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal” as a ref­er­ence to the no­tion that whites owned most of the coun­try’s econ­omy.

Mean­while, Fu­tureSA has wel­comed the board of the In­sti­tute of Di­rec- tors in South­ern Africa’s (IoDSA) de­ci­sion to sus­pend co-branded ac­tiv­i­ties with KPMG.

“The de­ci­sion will see IoDSA tem­po­rar­ily sus­pend ac­tiv­i­ties in­volv­ing KPMG’s spon­sor­ship of its golf day and KPMG’s in­volve­ment in the au­dit com­mit­tee fo­rum, pend­ing fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be con­ducted by the In­de­pen­dent Reg­u­la­tory Board for Au­di­tors,” Fu­tureSA said yes­ter­day.

The an­nounce­ment came in the wake of the #Gup­taLeaks ex­posé re­veal­ing that KPMG failed to pick up that funds from the Free State gov­ern­ment meant for a dairy farm pro­ject largely paid for the R30 mil­lion Gupta wed­ding.

There was an up­roar after the wealthy, po­lit­i­cally-con­nected fam­ily used the Waterk­loof Air Force Base in Pre­to­ria to land an air­craft car­ry­ing guests go­ing to the sump­tu­ous wed­ding.

“We must com­mend the IoDSA for tak­ing a stance against KMPG, as well as oth­ers who have now dis­as­so­ci­ated with the au­dit­ing firm.

“We also wel­come the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the In­de­pen­dent Reg­u­la­tory Board for Au­di­tors.

“This forms part of on­go­ing ac­tion and pres­sure that needs to be put on all those in­volved in, or cov­er­ing up, cor­rup­tion and state cap­ture,” Fu­tureSA con­venor Mandla Nkomfe said.

“We also wel­come the ter­mi­na­tion of [Bri­tish PR firm] Bell Pot­tinger’s mem­ber­ship from the [Bri­tish] Pub­lic Re­la­tions and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions As­so­ci­a­tion fol­low­ing re­ports of how the pub­lic re­la­tions firm ex­ploited racial di­vi­sions in South Africa through their work for a Gupta-linked com­pany.

“The con­cern ex­pressed by mem­bers of Bri­tain’s House of Lords over the Bell Pot­tinger is­sue, as well as the tough stance taken by some busi­nesses to sever ties with the PR firm, sends a strong mes­sage that sup­port­ing projects that aim to ex­ploit di­vi­sions and de­rail a coun­try’s demo­cratic pro­ject are un­ac­cept­able,” Nkomfe said.

“The depth of state cap­ture through the prac­tices and deal­ings by the Gupta fam­ily have un­der­mined and se­ri­ously dam­aged the sovereignty of our democ­racy.

“The rev­e­la­tions and ac­tions taken against KPMG and Bell Pot­tinger show us that this is just the start of a mas­sive clean-up process that needs to oc­cur to elim­i­nate the mess of state cap­ture.

“While some reg­u­la­tory bod­ies and busi­nesses have heard the voices of or­di­nary South Africans calling for ac­tion, we think it’s high time that the coun­try’s lead­er­ship does the same by get­ting rid of politi­cians who have pro­moted state cap­ture, ben­e­fit­ted from it, or pro­tected those in­volved in it.

“In­ves­ti­ga­tions into state cap­ture must be pri­ori­tised.

“Busi­nesses found to be in­volved must be pe­nalised.

“In­di­vid­u­als found to be guilty must be pros­e­cuted.

“We can­not al­low those who have sought to cor­rupt our democ­racy to get off scot­free,” Nkomfe said.


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