Gay campaigner denies Zimbabwe coup

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The Zimbabwe government has accused British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell of an alleged coup in the country.

Weapons were shown on Zimbabwean television claiming to have been seized at the home of one of the plotters from the Zimbabwean Freedom Movement, which Mr Tatchell has previously been linked with.

The government claims that the ZFM is affiliated to opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change and that Mr Tatchell and Peter Hitschmann, who was arrested after his house was raided in Harare, were organising a coup plot.

Mr Tatchell, a long time critic of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, described the allegations as “fairy tales” and “downright delusional.”

He said: “I have never been involved with the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement. Once, in 2003, I was asked by Zimbabwean activists to distribute in the UK a ZFM launch press communiqué and video recording. That was the start and finish of my connection with the ZFM.”

“Mugabe’s henchmen claim I was involved in opening a bank account in Mozambique to finance the overthrow of the Zimbabwean government. This is a joke. I can’t raise enough money to staff an office for my own human rights work, let alone fund an insurrection. The idea that I am bankrolling a coup is laughable.”

“The liberation of Zimbabwe is a matter for the people of Zimbabwe. I support their struggle for democracy, social justice and human rights, but I am not part of that struggle.”

He added, “Robert Mugabe is Ian Smith with a black face – only worse.”

“Mugabe has murdered more black Africans that apartheid South Africa. In the 1980s alone, in one region of Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, Mugabe’s Fifth Brigade massacred an estimated 20,000 people – a massacre more than 250 times greater than the notorious apartheid massacre at Sharpeville.”

“The massacre by Mugabe’s troops in Matabeleland was the equivalent of a Sharpeville massacre every day for ten months.”