Mugabe’s party accuses Coca Cola of promoting rival party ahead of election

A radio show on Thursday laid bare the level of paranoia that exists within Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF

A man waits to obtain his national identity card during a voter registration drive in Harare ahead of the general election. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

A man waits to obtain his national identity card during a voter registration drive in Harare ahead of the general election. Photograph: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters

 

Multinational company Coca Cola has been accused of supporting Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe’s political rivals ahead of the general election in a product promotion campaign for Zimbabwe.

Last Tuesday the state-run Herald newspaper claimed the multinational’s “Crazy for Good” marketing initiative is in fact an attempt to promote the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, rather than a straightforward exercise to increase sales.

The damning evidence, according to the newspaper, was reflected in the red Coke cans it was selling with images of open palms on them. This is the MDC’s colour of choice and the open palm is the symbol its supporters brandish at events such as election rallies.


Just a cover
The Coke cans in the new campaign feature what appear to be innocent messages such as “shout out something nice”, and “tell someone they are special”. But these are just a cover, the newspaper maintained.

“What raised eyebrows”, claimed the newspaper, was “the fact that palms are on the red cans only and not on flavours that bear other colours, like the blue Sprite or yellow Fanta cans . . . The timing of the campaign. . . coming as it does just a few weeks before harmonised elections constitutionally scheduled for June 29 has raised suspicion.”


Level of paranoia
On a radio show on Thursday the level of paranoia that exists within Zanu-PF in relation to what it believes are ongoing attempts by western interests to influence Zimbabwean politics were apparent.

The Zanu-PF deputy director of information Psychology Maziwisa told SW Radio Africa his party was taking the incident “very seriously” and “we hope that ZEC [election commission] will intervene in the matter”.

Maziwisa added: “We want our sovereignty and independence as a country to be respected. We want commercial entities to operate with us purely on commercial and business terms and not to delve into politics by supporting one political party.”

Mona Karingi, a Coca Cola brand manager, was forced to defend her company. “We are in the business of refreshing consumers and are not associated with politics at all.”