Zimbabwe Doesn’t Need Mnangagwa’s American PR Experts To Market Itself, Mutsvangwa Challenges Mnangagwa
15 February 2020
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Monica Mutsvangwa

Own Correspondent|Public relations practitioners and communicators should be sufficiently equipped to enhance their capacity in rebranding Zimbabwe, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa has said.

Minister Mutsvangwa was addressing the inaugural Institute of Public Relations and Communication Zimbabwe (IPRCZ) workshop held yesterday in Harare.

Zimbabwe is on a rebranding offensive since the inception of the New Dispensation in 2017 after the country’s ranking as a viable tourism and investment destination slumped over two decades owing to bilateral differences between Harare and London.

Immediately after his inauguration in 2017, President Mnangagwa adopted the “Zimbabwe is open for business” policy and sought reengagement with the international community.

Mnangagwa hired a four lobby and public relations (PR) firms in a desperate bid to spruce up his government’s battered international image and bolster the diplomatic re-engagement drive that has fallen off the rails amid a growing backlash over the deteriorating human rights situation in the country.

President Mnangagwa’s administration engaged London-based BTP Advisers—which joins United States-based Mercury International Limited, Ballard Partners and Avenue Strategies—in a quest to help Zimbabwe return to the community of nations after decades of isolation.

Minister Mutsvangwa noted that Zimbabwe had for long endured bad reputation, pointing out that both Government and the private sector had a responsibility to portray the country’s true image.

“Public relations practitioners must be capacitated to be able to represent their organisations and the country at large. We want to see more of training and workshops for public relations practitioners and communicators so as to enhance their capacities in terms of rebranding the country to a better and more prosperous Zimbabwe,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.

Running under the theme; “Earning trust, establishing valuable relationships to rebranding Zimbabwe in line with vision 2030,” the meeting intended to brainstorm best ways possible to reposition Zimbabwe to its rightful place among other countries.

Economist and member of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) Mr Eddie Cross said Government, especially the Finance Ministry, should be at the forefront of communicating the state of the economy to avoid misinterpretation of events by the general public.

Cross further indicated that Zimbabwe does not need the many American experts engaged by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to speak for Zimbabwe and take away millions of dollars.

Cross echoed Mutsvangwa’s sentiments that locals should be engaged to do the job.

Mr Cross implored Zimbabweans to select the kind of information they disseminate about their country, particularly on social media platforms.

“Communication is at the heart of understanding where we are, the problem of confidence in our country, in our Government can only be addressed by communication.

“We need to market our country and communicate a good message about our country. Zimbabwe has achieved macro-economic stability but we need to explain why we have inflation to basically make it clear to the people.

“Communication is not simple, communicators are required to be frank and we should use all our tools at our disposal for our people to regain confidence in our country,” said Mr Cross.

The convener of the meeting and executive director of IPRC, Mr Proctor Nyemba weighed in saying public relations should be in sync with Government’s vision.

“This meeting’s objective was to create an engagement between the public sector and Government on how to manage the public relations of the country. We want both of them to have a common vision on how to envision 2030,” he said.