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African Leaders Fall Prey To Fake News Generating Foreign PR Companies

Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson

Bell Pottinger CEO James Henderson has resigned over fake news tweet. The United Kingdom (UK) put the PR company under the radar for a breach in the code of conduct regulating the industry.

Bell Pottinger is said to have been hired by the Gupta Family , a prominent family in South Africa of Indian Origin. The Gupta family was in the recent past accused of mass bribery of government officials including President Jacob Zuma.

The Gupta Family hired the PR company to clean up their tarnished reputation. The PR firm is said to have started a campaign that aroused the emotions of the Black inhabitants of South Africa.

Using the hashtag #WhiteMonopolyCapital a lot of emotions were aroused triggering an uproar in a country that has for years suffered the perks of racial segregation.

The hashtag served as a distraction for the apparent state capture by the Gupta family in South Africa.

A similar scenario was experienced in Kenya ahead of the 2017 elections where a video of fake news titled Kenya 2020 appeared on social media platforms. Apart from that, a company called Cambridge Analytica, responsible for Trumps campaign, was also hired by the Jubilee party in the country to run propaganda campaigns against the leading opposition coalition (NASA) and its leader, Raila Odinga.

The fact that social media is unregulated and tracing of origin is almost impossible makes it easier to circulate unverified pieces of information especially if they have very controversial subjects.

In the professionally edited video circulated online, there was an apparent display of what would become of Kenya with Raila Odinga as its President. It showed of a war zone with bad health facilities and scarcity of food and water.

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Cambridge Analytica is remembered in the US for running a sustained propaganda campaign on the reputation of the then Democratic Party candidate, Hillary Clinton, leading to her poor performance in the elections.

The firm is said to have had direct links with the TNA party in the 2013 elections but has denied having any association with the Jubilee party.

Read: IBM East Africa CEO Nick Nesbitt Blamed for Trying to Manipulate Kenya’s Election Results

Some of the fake propaganda materials from Cambridge Analytica in Kenya bore the signatures of leading media houses like CNN and BBC forcing them to disassociate with the messages.


Unlike Cambridge Analytica, Bell Pottinger CEO took responsibility for the tweet and said that they were unaware of what the staff was up to. In his resignation letter, the CEO said he would take responsibility for the actions even if he was unaware.

The PR Company has since cut off ties with the Gupta family.

The UK public relations and communication agency is set to expel Bell Potinger.The  expulsion will take immediate effect after the announcement which will be made on Tuesday 5th September 2017.The Agency felt that  Bell Potinger fell short of the PRCA’s ethical standards and that their partnership with the Gupta owned Oak bay account  brought disrepute o the entire British Public Relations Industry.

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Written by Merxcine Cush

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