Zimbabwe: Assassination Plot, or PR Frameup?

Last week, Spin of the Day mentioned a report on Australia's SBS television, which used clandestinely filmed footage provided by the Canadian PR firm of Dickens and Madson that claimed to show Zimbabwe's opposition presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, plotting in December to assassinate incumbent president Robert Mugabe. However, the Mass Media Project of Zimbabwe, an independent watchdog organization, has reviewed the footage and says that it appears to have been doctored. Meanwhile, the state-run media in Zimbabwe has been giving prominent play to the story, and Zimbabwe police have charged Tsvangirai with treason, a crime punishable by death. Tsvangirai admits meeting with Dickens & Madson, but says the PR firm manipulated the conversation in an attempt to entrap him. "Of course this is intended to divert people," Tsvangirai said. "If a crime was committed in December, why wait until three weeks before the election?" Since the SBS program aired, it has been learned that Dickens and Madson is now working as a consultant for the Zimbabwe government. But Australian journalist Mark Davis, who produced the SBS documentary, continues to stand by his story, saying he has seen the full, undoctored videotape along with other evidence of an assassination plot. The Guardian of London has also viewed the full videotape and found "no obvious sign that the sound or sequences have been tampered with."