Zimbabwe claims CIA behind Nicole Kidman 'Interpreter' movie

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - President Robert Mugabe's government has attacked the suspense thriller The Interpreter, starring Nicole Kidman, as part of a propaganda campaign by the CIA that shows "Zimbabwe's enemies did not rest".

Two months after Zimbabwe's official censorship board approved the film's screening here, acting Minister of Information and Publicity Chen Chimutengwende told the government-controlled daily, The Herald, in an article published yesterday that: "The CIA-backed film showed that Zimbabwe's enemies did not rest."

The Herald also linked the film to efforts by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer last week to have Mugabe indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

In the film, Kidman plays a United Nations interpreter who overhears two people discussing an apparent assassination plot against the president of a fictional Republic of Matobo. The president, Edmond Zuwanie, is accused of ethnic cleansing and plans to address the UN General Assembly in an attempt to forestall indictment by the International Criminal Court.

Zuwanie and the fictional country he leads have been interpreted as caricatures of Mugabe and Zimbabwe.

"The film just shows how careful we have to be and that we should know our enemy is very powerful," Chimutengwende said. "We should plan to counter Euro-American imperialism. Our enemies have resources and are determined to wage their war on the economic, social and cultural fronts."

The film ran for two weeks in early July at Harare cinemas and is available here on video.

Zimbabwe has become an international outcast in recent years because of repression and economic mismanagement by Mugabe's regime. The government claims Western sanctions and boycotts are to blame for the country's looming financial collapse.

The government tightened its grip on power last week with a constitutional amendment that allows it to deny passports to critics.

The Herald said in response to the film that the US-based Friends of Zimbabwe African-American coalition would march to New York's Dag Hammskjold Plaza in support of Mugabe when he addresses the UN General Assembly later this year.

There was no comment yesterday from the Rainbow Cinema Group, which distributed the film here.

Tafataona Mahoso, chairman of the government's Media and Information Commission, said the movie was "typical of US Cold War propaganda".

Opposition legislator Trudy Stevenson described the Herald report as "paranoia" that came two months too late.


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