Mbabane: Former Eswatini Government Public Relations Consulting Firm, Vuma Reputation Management has taken former Democratic Alliance (DA), Member of Parliament Phumzile Van Damme, to task over tweets she made in the past week.
Vuma Reputation Management is a South African public relations consultancy company that has been working in Eswatini for about 10 years. According to Vuma, In November 2019, it formally entered into a working agreement with the government of Eswatini, “for a complete reputation management programme” that was aimed at assisting the country to attract Foreign Direct Investment.
On July 15, 2021, Vuma Reputation Management wrote a letter to Van Damme requesting her to withdraw some of the statements she recently made about Vuma and its relationship with the government of Eswatini.
It further urges her to publish a retraction of the tweets or provide evidence to substantiate them. The letter states that if she continues with her ‘misinformation’ campaign against the company it will seek appropriate legal recourse.
Van Damme who is based in Sout Africa was born in Eswatini and is a former Member of Parliament for the Democratic Alliance. Van Damme has been very vocal on social media questioning the relationship of Vuma and its position with the Eswatini government with regards to the recent unrest in the country.
Vandame made several tweets accusing Vuma of actively assisting the government of Eswatini to manage the political crisis which was currently ongoing. The magnitude of the critics made by Van Damme’s tweets led to a storm on social media which saw Vuma terminate its relationship with the Eswatini government.
According to the letter written by Vuma, Van Damme is requested to issue a retraction or produce evidence of some of her tweets. “We write to you in response to the various allegations which you have posted on your Twitter over the past few weeks. We record that, at the time of this letter, you had approximately 154 500 followers, and as such, a substantial audience. We note that you have made various serious allegations over the past week. These allegations pose a significant risk to our reputation,” reads the letter.
The letter further states that “None of the false allegations contained in your tweets are substantiated by evidence and have been released in the public domain, firstly, in an effort to ‘cancel’ us as a company and secondly, to feed the narrative that you are the public hero for the oppressed who will stop at nothing to seek truth and justice.”
“What you frame as ‘digital activism’, in our case, has been founded on misinformation, driven by a narrative of supposed ‘truth bending’, with absolutely no evidence. We are confident in this regard that no such evidence exists.”
“ We request you to refrain from spreading misinformation about our company and our stakeholders, should you continue with your campaign against us we will have no other option but to seek appropriate legal recourse,” reads the letter.
The further states that Vandamme should respond by Friday, 16 July 2021 at 15:00. In a tweet, Van Damme responded stating that he has received the letter.