South African fast food chain Nando’s has decided to axe their TV advert which poked fun at Zimbabwe’s 87 year old president, Robert Mugabe, as “the last dictator standing”. The decision was made following threats directed at Nandos operations in Zimbabwe by Zanu PF’s violent Chipangano gang.
To the soundtrack of Mary Hopkin’s hit song “Those were the days, my friend,” the Nandos commercial shows an actor playing Mugabe reminiscing about his times with former dictators. It portrays him and Gadhafi engaging in a water-pistol fight, with Gadhafi wielding a golden AK-47 water pistol.
The commercial shows Mugabe dining alone at Christmas, his empty table set for departed dictators including Moammar Gadhafi. Mugabe 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 Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in the hit movie “Titanic.”
It’s reported the Chipangano gang led by Jim Kunaka responded by making threats against Nandos staff in Zimbabwe. The group 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,” Kunaka said this week.
In a statement Nandos South Africa said “We’ve noted with concern the political reaction emanating out of Zimbabwe, including perceived threats against Nando’s Zimbabwe’s management, staff and customers.”
“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.” He warned that Nandos 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.
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.