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Mugabe grilled in South African chicken ad

A satirical ad by Nando's Chicken poked fun at Zimbabwe President Mugabe. His supporters were not amused.

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Insulting the president is still a crime in Zimbabwe, a fact that may have led local Nando’s franchises to distance themselves from the South African ad campaign, with Musekiwa Kumbula, corporate affairs director for Nando’s biggest shareholder, calling the ad “insensitive and in poor taste.”

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South African satire may be “a bit broader” and stereotyped than the sophisticated commentary on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, Mr. Silber adds, but then again, South African politicians have a penchant for broad over-the-top statements and actions themselves.

“When you look at what Julius Malema” the ruling ANC’s ousted youth league leader “and President Jacob Zuma do in reality, it’s hard to beat that in satire,” Silber says.

Nando’s is certainly not the only source of satire in South Africa. Political cartoonist Zapiro portrays South African President Zuma with a showerhead coming out of his forehead, a reminder of Zuma’s court statement in a rape trial that he had taken a shower after having what he insisted was consensual sex with a woman who was HIV positive. The online satirical website Hayibo has made a name for itself with nonsensical news articles such as this one about the Durban climate change conference, advising delegates to “think globally, act locally, and panic internally.”

Sipho Hlongwane, a political correspondent for the South African online news site iMaverick, says that while Americans are often cynical about the mainstream media – and therefore seek out comedians like Jon Stewart and Bill Maher for a hint of political truth – South Africans show “a little more respect for authority in the media, which actually leaves a massive gap for irreverence” by satire outlets and yes, by chicken restaurants like Nando’s.

The Nando’s ad went down predictably well among the South African chattering class, Mr. Hlongwane adds, but “I doubt that it would be accepted any differently among poorer communities. They will have partly blamed Mugabe’s regime for the influx of foreigners from Zimbabwe, which leads to xenophobic tensions which have never quite died down.”

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