5 December 2017

South Africa: Beware the Dangerous Ambitions of the Anti-Business Propaganda Campaign

analysis

The formal business sector in South Africa has been subjected to a propaganda onslaught that has damaged it. It has painted business as universally corrupt, led by unrepentant beneficiaries of apartheid, in conflict with the aspirations of most South Africans. In the process we have lost a clear view of what business really does in a society like ours and the important role it must play in delivering on the objectives every South African desires, especially growth and employment. By STUART THEOBALD and COLIN ANTHONY.

A propaganda campaign against the business sector has been waged through social media and a group of spokespeople with unclear funding and motives. Some of the clearest origins of the campaign lie with former Gupta communications company Bell Pottinger, but it has certainly involved other organisations including social media experts in India and elsewhere. The public face has been presented by several spokespeople, including Mzwanele Manyi, the new owner of the Guptas' former media interests, and Black First Land First founder Andile Mngxitama.

What is the purpose of the campaign? We detect three ambitions.

The first is to eliminate threats to the Guptas and their collaborators posed by businesses dishing the dirt on corruption. The...

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