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Tuesday, 26 February, 2002, 12:51 GMT
Zimbabwe's treason tape saga
Ari Ben-Menashe
Morgan Tsvangirai says he is being framed
In a grainy videotape recorded from a security camera, Morgan Tsvangirai is allegedly shown plotting to have President Robert Mugabe assassinated.

This forms the basis of the charges of high treason made against the man who hopes to replace Mr Mugabe as Zimbabwe's leader.


The video had been cut and rearranged in a manner that appeared to suit the assassination conspiracy theory

Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe
A Canadian political consultancy, Dickens and Madson, claims that someone representing Mr Tsvangirai approached it in order to have Mr Mugabe killed.

The head of the consultancy, Ari Ben-Menashe, had previously worked for Mr Mugabe.

He says he was shocked by the proposal and immediately contacted the Zimbabwe Government.

Mr Tsvangirai admits meeting Mr Ben-Menashe, a former intelligence officer in the Israeli army, but stresses it was to carry out lobbying work in North America.

Jumps

In one of the exchanges broadcast on Australian television, Mr Tsvangirai allegedly says:

"We can now definitely say that Mugabe is going to be eliminated?"


Ari Ben-Menashe
Ari Ben-Menashe
  • Worked for Israeli military intelligence
  • Political lobbyist for Mugabe
  • Called "a notorious, chronic liar" by Jerusalem Post
  • Mr Ben-Menashe replies:

    "Are you in a position basically to ensure a smooth transition of power?"

    "Yes, I have no doubt about it," replies Mr Tsvangirai.

    Although this sounds like damning evidence, after each question or answer, the film suddenly jumps and the figures switch their seating positions, showing that the clip has been heavily edited.

    The Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe has analysed the video tape and says that a version broadcast relentlessly on Zimbabwe television has a video timer on the screen, which also demonstrates "that the video had been cut and rearranged in a manner that appeared to suit the assassination conspiracy theory".

    "The timer... changed repeatedly from, 9.45am to 9.25am; and from 9.25am to 9.43am and then back to 9.27am; and from 9.52am to 9.44am," says the MMPZ.

    Credibility

    Mr Tsvangirai claims that words were put into his mouth and when Mr Ben-Menashe first suggested the possibility of Mr Mugabe being assassinated, he immediately left the room.

    Since the allegations were first broadcast on the Australian programme Dateline, the credibility of Mr Ben-Menashe has been seriously questioned.

    Ari Ben-Menashe
    Mugabe - the victim of the alleged plot

    He has previously been involved in allegations made linking the late British newspaper magnate Robert Maxwell to Mossad, the Israeli secret service.

    In 1990, he was acquitted in the United States of illegally selling Israeli planes to Iran.

    The Jerusalem Post calls him "a notorious, chronic liar".

    But he stands by his story and told the BBC that Mr Tsvangirai was "stupid" for engaging his firm, which had previously worked for Mr Mugabe.

    Film-maker Mark Davis accepts that the version of the film shown by Zimbabwe state television had been edited.

    But he says he has the full one-hour videos and insists that Mr Tsvangirai was trying to get to power by having his rival killed.

    "People just do not want to believe," he said.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Rageh Omaar
    "Treason in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe carries the death penalty"

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    See also:

    14 Feb 02 | Africa
    24 Feb 02 | Africa
    23 Feb 02 | Africa
    06 Feb 02 | Africa
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