I refer to your latest reports on the Bell Pottinger scandal. Clearly this latest debacle by the UK-based public relations firm has been its Waterloo, with staff and clients running for the hills. What seems to have escaped the media searchlight into this firm’s alleged nefarious shenanigans is the fact that it was involved in SA’s 1994 elections. FW de Klerk and his National Party were the UK firm’s clients.
If it was a given that our new democracy was to be a runaway success, why did the election protagonists need a group like Bell Pottinger? Given that the promises made to the hapless crowds who queued for hours to put their crosses for the ANC contributed largely to this heretofore revolutionary movement’s resounding victory, was the role played by Bell Pottinger connected perhaps to polishing the images of the two parties involved? The ANC’s background needing a bit of airbrushing after bombing their way to power, while De Klerk and his NP buddies were going to "power share" with the ANC for five years, with no intention whatsoever of fulfilling their promises.
This fairytale was sold to the electorate. But little emphasis was placed in the PR campaign on Joe Slovo’s sunset clause offer to the NP (the so-called power-sharing humbug) so that officials of the surrendering party were guaranteed their comfortable lifestyles and immunity from possible future prosecution.
The power-sharing fiction was a great sell, especially to whites who would feel comfortable if De Klerk and his chums would be "at the helm" cogoverning the country, so to speak. May we speculate that this PR sell also contributed to the euphoria generated during the election and, as a corollary, may we also be permitted to point a finger now at Bell Pottinger for aiding and abetting the desecration of what was once a beautiful, functioning country by the current government whom Bell Pottinger promoted in 1994?