SA Tourism spent R9.6m with Bell Pottinger: minister


Bell Pottinger.

CAPE TOWN - A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that SA Tourism hired Bell Pottinger on a three-year contract from 2014 and paid them approximately R9.6-million.

Minister of Tourism Tokozile Xasa indicated in her response that, while the department itself had not given any tenders to the firm‚ SA Tourism‚ one of its entities‚ had.

The tender was originally valued at R8.6-million but ended up costing R9.6-million because of exchange-rate fluctuations.

READ: South Africans protest outside Bell Pottinger offices in London

Xasa said that the services were for public relations, including online communications to complement and align with existing media buying, events and social media services.

The DA says it will demand a full justification for this spending from the tourism minister, and will seek an explanation for how SA Tourism continued to pay Bell Pottinger after the Gupta scandal emerged numerous months ago.

READ: #GuptaLeaks: How Bell Pottinger sought to package SA economic message

Xasa also said that the tender had recently been re-advertised and a new company would take over from July.

The DA called the deal "a disgraceful conflict of interests for Bell Pottinger to be on the South African government payroll at the same time as the Guptas were paying them to sow division in South Africa".

The British-based PR company ended its relationship with Oakbay, a Gupta-owned company, in April because of targeted smear campaigns.

At the time Bell Pottinger accused the South African Communist Party of sparking a social media campaign against it.

Oakbay contracted the company last year to improve its public image in South Africa.