Lunatics, or dirty tricks?

'We will take Mugabe alive'

This article appeared in November 2003 when the

pace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Zimbabwe Freedom Movement made its first appearance. A small sample of the London press corps was yesterday treated to a production of downmarket melodrama, as the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement launched its inaugural video onto a hitherto unsuspecting world. The MTV awards this wasn’t. A camera, which didn’t move from its tripod, an off-screen interviewer, and two actors so wooden they had more grain than the pictures, this low-budget presentation was reminiscent of 1970’s footage from the steamier sort of Latin American banana republic.

Several of the assembled hacks were heard stifling giggles as ZFM’s National Commander, Charles Black Mamba and Ntuthuko Fezela, the group’s Deputy National Commander, outlined their strategy in electronically distorted voices. ZFM – the name suggests a radio station rather than a liberation movement – would attempt to “take Mugabe alive.”

The scene was dripping with tacky symbolism. The two commanders, in military fatigues and ski-mask balaclavas, with Mr Mamba sporting a rather fetching beret, sat side-by-side on benches which appeared to have been ripped from one of Harare‘s commuter taxis. The flag behind the two goggled-eyed characters had been doctored. The Zimbabwe bird floated alone in the white triangle, searching forlornly for the red star which seemed to have slipped off the standard.

Other pictures show ZFM’s “arms dump”, which consists mostly of stacked ammunition boxes and half-a-dozen superannuated rifles. They really should find a new PR consultant. Speaking of which, the show was compered by Peter Tatchell – world-renowned self-publicist, gay rights activist, and now rebel group impresario – who stressed that he was not involved with the organisation “in any way”, but was solely a facilitator, bringing it’s message to the world. He did manage to find a half-decent venue – the Institute of Contemporary Arts on The Mall between Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace. Never has an African coup been launched from so salubrious a postcode.

ZFM have a website. The address – – indicates that it is registered in the Cocos Islands (population 630). Is this an unintended consequence of global warming? Are a group of Indian Ocean islanders plotting to take over Zimbabwe before their home disappears below the waves? The Cocos Islands are an Australian territory. Is the combination of rising damp and direct rule from Canberra proving too much?

Do they see their future with well-known anti-Australians in southern Africa? The islanders have 287 working telephones, one radio station, no TV station, and no railway. They would feel at home in Zimbabwe. Or could it be that ZFM’s website was registered as .cc because .com, .org and .net were already taken. Whatever; they appear to have had some small help with their site, which so far features “Communiqué 1” and a couple of photos, from a web design company in less-than-exotic North London.

If ZFM are who they say they are, why have they talked the talk before walking the walk? Most “rebel” groups at least have the tactical foresight to take a couple of hostages, or blow up a few telephone poles, before presenting themselves to the world. So far, so ludicrous. But in Zimbabwe this may play, not as farce, but as tragedy. For this drivel is the answer to J Moyo’s dreams. Here, on one video cassette, are all the visions of his paranoid mind. A “gay gangster” – once memorably described by Mugabe as British minister Peter Hain’s “husband” – is seen associating himself with promises of violent revolution, in the centre of British imperialism.

Moyo has been spouting this kind of rubbish week after month after year, and suddenly the strands of “evidence”, like London buses, all conveniently arrive together. Perhaps this is not so much the answer to Jonathan’s dreams, as the product of them. This will go down like iced-beer with Moyo’s friends in Africa and beyond who, of course, suspected it all along. And don’t bet against more ransacking of offices, more mass arrests, more treason charges, more draconian laws – on the pretext of this ridiculous film. – From ZWNEWS. Don’t bother trying to visit the ZFM website at . It is now registered to a German organisation selling badmington equipment.

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