THE CONTROVERSIAL SOUTH African restaurant and fast food chain Nando’s has withdrawn advertising that depicts the authoritarian president of Zimbabwe as “the last dictator standing.”
Nando’s South Africa said in an announcement it noted with concern “political reaction” in Zimbabwe, including threats against managers, staff and customers at its spicy chicken franchise outlets across the country.
The television commercial shows Robert Mugabe dining alone at Christmas, his empty table set for departed dictators including Muammar Gaddafi.
Nando’s says it will no longer air the advertising on South African television, which is beamed by satellite to tens of thousands of Zimbabwean subscribers.
On Tuesday, a militant youth group loyal to Mugabe called for a boycott and other punitive action against the chain unless the 60-second commercial was dropped and an apology made to Mugabe, 87, who led Zimbabwe to independence in 1980.
The announcement said the food chain took the threats seriously.
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.
To the soundtrack of Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days,” the commercial shows an actor playing Mugabe reminiscing about his times with former dictators.
It portrays him and ‘Gaddafi’ engaging in a water-pistol fight, with Gaddafi wielding a golden AK-47 water pistol.
The Mugabe character also makes sand angels with Iraq’s ‘Saddam Hussein’, sings karaoke with ‘Chairman Mao’, and holds overthrown Ugandan dictator ‘Idi Amin’ astride a tank in a scene parodying the hit movie Titanic.
The head of Nando’s Zimbabwe franchise said earlier this week that it was not informed of the South African television and press campaign, and is independent of them.
It is an offence under Zimbabwe law to insult Mugabe or undermine the authority of his office.