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Nando’s axes Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe ‘dictator’ advert


A South African fast food chain has withdrawn a TV advert which pokes fun at Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as "the last dictator standing".

Nando's South Africa said it decided to act after receiving threats to its staff in Zimbabwe from a youth group loyal to Mr Mugabe.

The video shows a sad Mugabe look-a-like dining alone at a table set for Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, Uganda's Idi Amin and other late autocratic rulers.

The firm is known for its cheeky ads.

Karaoke with Mao

"We've noted with concern the political reaction emanating out of Zimbabwe, including perceived threats against Nando's Zimbabwe's management, staff and customers," Nando's South Africa said in a statement.

"We feel strongly that this is the prudent step to take in a volatile climate and believe that no TV commercial is worth risking the safety of Nando's staff and customers."

The video – which reportedly cost up to $370,000 (£236,000) to produce – was part of a Christmas festive season campaign running on South African TV.

It was also broadcast across the continent – including Zimbabwe – through satellite channels, and recently went global, scoring hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube.

In the commercial, an actor playing Mr Mugabe reminisces about happy times with other autocratic rulers to the soundtrack of Mary Hopkin's Those Were the Days.

Mr Mugabe is shown playing a water-pistol fight with Col Gaddafi, making sand angels with Saddam Hussein, riding on a tank with Idi Amin in a scene parodying Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio from the Titanic film, and also singing karaoke with China's Mao Tse-Tung.

'Insensitive' ad

Nando's South Africa decided to axe its commercial after Mugabe loyalists from the Chipangano group had called for a boycott and other unspecified punitive action against the company.

"We condemn such adverts because it reduces our president to be someone without values," Chipangano leader Jimmy Kunaka told the BBC's Brian Hungwe earlier this week.

Mr Kunaka said Nando's South Africa should "stop that nonsense to play with the head of our state and government".

"We're ready to defend the head of the state and government in whatever way we can," he added, without elaborating further.

Meanwhile, Musekiwa Kumbula, corporate affairs director of Nando's Zimbabwe franchise, told the BBC that the advert "has nothing to do with us", describing the commercial as "insensitive and distasteful".

Under Zimbabwe's law, it is an offence to insult the president or undermine the authority of the office.

Read more on Zimbabwe with 'Catastrophe: What went wrong in Zimbabwe?' by Richard Bourne with Zed Books. get yourself a copy of this fascinating book here.

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