Goodbye Bell Pottinger – a celebration of SA’s shifting power equation

It’s taken a mere 18 months for the Gupta Curse to destroy one of London’s leading public relations firms. But according to the man who dealt the coup de grace, Francis Ingham, the damage wrought during their unholy £100,000 a month alliance has put South Africa back 10 years.

Bell Pottinger was the lead story in yesterday’s London Financial Times after the PR industry’s umbrella body expelled the firm with no option of rejoining for five years. In an interview with Biznews colleague Gareth van Zyl, PRCA director general Ingham said he cannot see how Bell Pottinger could survive this sanction.

Although the political impact is minimal, Bell Pottinger’s likely demise is great news for South Africans fatigued by a daily pummelling of bad news. It won’t be the last infection of the highly contagious Gupta Curse. The family’s close ally, Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, was shown the door. Ditto SA head of McKinsey. And pressure is mounting on his equivalent at KPMG.

Evil flourishes when good men (and women) do nothing. But what we have here is the opposite with an armada of activists from the churches, media and courts through to Pravin Gordhan, OUTA and the inimitable Paul O’Sullivan standing firm against seemingly irresistible odds. The power equation is well and truly shifting.

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