CAPE TOWN – James Henderson’s decision to relinquish his role as CEO of Bell Pottinger is not in any way an act of valour – he owns 40 percent of the British public relations firm and remains a majority shareholder, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.
“If Henderson had truly appreciated the implications of their propaganda in South Africa, he would repay the £1.2-million (approximately R20-million) it earned from the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, for the benefit of South Africa, as the DA requested,” DA national spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said.
Full disclosure of the nature of the contract Bell Pottinger entered into with Zuma jnr and the Guptas would have demonstrated goodwill and willingness to begin to repair the damage their work caused to South Africa, she said.
“In addition, Henderson is on record stating that he would publicly release the report by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP3, the law firm hired by Bell Pottinger to audit the Gupta account, by the end of August.
“August has ended and no report has been released. Instead, we receive news of his resignation, a move no doubt, designed to appease. The DA is not appeased,” Van Damme said.
On Tuesday morning, following a complaint lodged by the DA, the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) will release its findings on Bell Pottinger’s contract for the Gupta-owned Oakay capital.
“We trust that a tough sanction will be handed down to send a message to the entire PR industry that the sort of behaviour engaged in by Bell Pottinger will not be tolerated. The DA will announce a way forward and any further action it may take against Bell Pottinger after the release of the report,” Van Damme said.
According to media reports, Henderson resigned after damning findings by the PRCA. The association has reportedly found Bell Pottinger guilty of trying to sow racial division in South Africa.