01:24 am - Wednesday 21 November 2018

UK PR firm helping African countries with poor governance records

By Amalawi - Sat Nov 30, 4:16 pm

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Malawi: The UK public relations firm which President Joyce Banda has hired to prop up her image in the wake of the cashgate scandal has been facing protests for working to clean up reputations of governments with poor governance record.

Banda hired Bell Pottinger to boost her image in the eyes of the international community following the massive damage caused by the looting of public funds at Capital Hill resulting in donors, including the UK, withholding their direct budget support.

A group of angry protesters last year descended on Bell Pottinger’s offices in London where they demonstrated against the company’s contract with the DRC government to promote its reputation and that of President Joseph Kabila in the eyes of the international community in light of various human rights concerns including rape cases in the country’s mining sector.

According to the UK’s Telegraph newspaper, the protesters “super-glued themselves to the glass door of Bell Pottinger and deployed reinforced arm tubes to stop anyone else getting inside.”

Reputation Management

Reputation Management

Bell Pottinger was also recently linked to a deal to rebrand the image of the government of Gabon as a vanguard for the protection of rainforests, according to the UK’s Independent newspaper.

The Sri Lankan government also came under fire recently after revelations that Bell Pottinger had written the speech which the country’s president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, delivered at the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 amid heightened human rights concerns in that country, according to BBC.

“Bell Pottinger chairman was secretly recorded as saying that Mr Rajapaksa had chosen the company’s version of the speech in preference to one drafted by his own foreign ministry,” reads a BBC article.

But Bell Pottinger, in the same BBC article, however, denied working for the Congolese government, saying its public affairs section focuses its operations on the UK and Europe.

 

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