ANGOLA’S biggest radio sports channel fired its editorial team after the station recently aired a widely publicized interview with a man pretending to be the Brazilian president, writes Gilberto Neto for

Popular Radio 5, a branch of the government-controlled Radio Nacional de Angola, said it was unacceptable that the channel had not realized that the man on the other side of the line was not the real president. Radio 5 said the mistake seriously harmed the station’s reputation and could have endangered the relationship between the two countries.

Radio 5 is considered to be one of the most popular stations in Angola.

The phone interview was conducted by senior editor and popular presenter Vaz Kinguri. Another person pretending to be an advisor to the Brazilian president called the station saying that Lula was available to talk.

In the 10-minute interview, the supposed Brazilian president praised Angola for hosting the forthcoming African Cup of Nations (CAN 2010), adding that the country deserved this long time ago. He also said that a booming economy and a major reconstruction effort that follow a long civil war were strong reasons for the country to host the tournament.

The station gave the interview extensive publicity on prime time nationwide news services.

It then turned out that the man was a Brazilian comedian with a similar voice to president Lula da Silva, a big supporter of Angola’s international initiatives. He had previously played the same trick on Australian-based SBS in a 25 minute interview.

The interviewer, a Brazilian journalist, checked with the president’s press office after becoming suspicious. “The president’s security office is handling this issue,” Brazilian website Ultimo Segundo quoted a source from the presidency as saying. The president was on his way home from London by the time the interview was recorded, the source said.

Angola will host the African soccer tournament in January next year, an issue that tops the national political agenda.