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Minister Shava ropes in media to deliver on strategy

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19 MAY, 2021

Lovemore Chikova
Development Dialogue

On Friday last week, newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Fredrick Shava held an interface with editors and journalists from various media houses, both local and international, in Harare.

The idea of the interface was for Minister Shava to lay his vision to the media so that there can be a mutual understanding on not only political diplomacy, but more importantly economic diplomacy which his ministry is pursuing.

It was important that Minister Shava was clear to the journalists on the path that will bring Zimbabwe to a reawakening in terms of realising its potential on the international arena.

The fact that he devoted the whole afternoon interfacing with the media indicates how the new Minister values journalists in helping shape the Zimbabwean story.

In doing that, the media plays an important role in the rebranding of Zimbabwe as a destination conducive for investment and cooperation with various international partners.

The media can effectively change perceptions and help create a favourable image for policies being implemented by Government.

The New Dispensation has done a lot since 2017 to uplift the economy and develop the country, and has been reaching out to various countries through its engagement and re-engagement policy.

Everything has gone on well on that front, with the efforts being publicly applauded at various international meetings.

What remains glaring is how some in the international community tend to make their decisions based on perceptions about Zimbabwe, which in most cases are influenced by past prejudices.

Of course, the country has gone through some difficulties in the past two decades, but the New Dispensation has come up with a totally different approach that has seen sectors of the economy being restored to functionality.

Economic fundamentals that enable easy of doing business have also been restored, with stability being realised in foreign currency and prices.

In fact, doing business in Zimbabwe is now predictable and investors can put in their funds knowing very well that they will reap rewards without facing hassles.

Through the setting up of the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, everything is now clearly spelt out in terms of incentives investors can expect in various sectors of the economy.

Massive infrastructure development is taking place in many areas, all aimed at changing the country’s status and make it attractive for doing business.

A lot is also happening in tourism.

The National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025), which is guiding the country’s development strategy for next five years, has been hailed as the best strategy for the country’s economic turnaround.

It will be succeeded by National Development Strategy 2, leading to the attainment of an upper middle income by 2030 under Vision 2030.

The Zimbabwe which people used to know before 2017 has since been replaced by a forward looking country with a completely different style of doing business.

And the media is important in documenting these success stories.

Takeaways from Minister Shava’s address:

Media

The media plays an important strategic role in articulating any foreign policy.

“While the conduct of foreign policy in Zimbabwe is driven by the chief diplomat, His Excellency the President, and implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and other State actors, the Fourth Estate, as the media is usually referred to, because of its explicit capacity for advocacy and implicit ability to frame political issues in the world, is a fundamental piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“It is the lens through which Zimbabwe is viewed globally. Therefore, the Ministry regards the media as a very important arm, which wields tremendous power and influence that plays a pertinent nation-building function of enlightening and educating the public on current developments, programmes and policies.”

Minister Shava said he believed in the principle of the media being an ally in public diplomacy that provides opportunities to communicate with the public and the world at large.

Engagement with both public and private media will be at the heart of the ministry’s communications strategy, providing accurate and timely information.

“Together, we can build the Zimbabwe we want,” said Minister Shava.

“We, therefore, expect the media to disseminate correct, factual and objective information to the consumers. Going forward, I hope to interact more with all of you as we endeavour to tell a positive and constructive story to the world about our beloved Zimbabwe.”

Vision

The overall vision of the ministry, Minister Shava said was to continue promoting President Mnangagwa’s foreign policy directives that he laid down in November 2017.

The main pillars of the policies are:

(i) Zimbabwe would be a friend to all and an enemy of none

(ii) Zimbabwe would pursue a policy of affirmation, engagement and re-engagement

(iii) Zimbabwe is Open for Business.

Strategies

The Ministry’s strategies will include:

(i) increasing global visibility

(ii) building strong alliances at both bilateral and multilateral levels

(iii) boosting attractiveness by building a positive image to the outside world

(iv) economic diplomacy thrust of the foreign policy

Responsibilities

He said the Ministry will redouble efforts towards fulfilling the primary economic diplomacy role of facilitating economic and commercial exchanges between Zimbabwe and strategic partners.

“In so doing, our end goal is to position our business sector to increase exports to a diversity of markets and attract sustainable investments from strategic countries to Zimbabwe,” he said.

The responsibilities are:

(i) to enhance Zimbabwe’s reputation as a reliable economic, trade and investment cooperation partner.

(ii) promote the country as an attractive tourism destination.

(iii) to promote and expand Zimbabwe’s exports of a diversity of goods and services to a diversity of markets.

(iv) promote and facilitate Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the various sectors of the economy, including infrastructure development projects.

(v) ensure all work contributes to the attainment of national economic development objectives.

(vi) to strengthen Zimbabwe’s relations with the international community.

(vii) tap into the preferential market access opportunities in Africa under SADC, COMESA, the Tripartite Free Trade Area, and the African Continental Free Trade Area.

(viii) take advantage of duty-free access to markets in Europe and the UK.

(ix) focus on export growth to offset the negative impact of sanctions to a greater extent.

Engagement and

re-engagement

Minister Shava said the Ministry will strive to end the country’s isolation through continued engagement and re-engagement with all members of the international community.

“Rebranding our country’s battered image, consolidating old friendships and opening new economic frontiers of mutual beneficial co-operation will thus remain a critical foreign policy objective,” he said.

“Through building strong alliances, Zimbabwe has great potential to influence global developments, if only we can strategically harness our resources.”

Diaspora

Minister Shava said the Second Republic valued the contributions of the Diaspora and was keen to engage them in all aspects of the development of the country.

He said the Zimbabwe Diaspora was a force to reckon with as evidenced by the increased remittances that totalled more than one billion in 2020.

“In light of this huge contribution to the general growth of the economy and the betterment of the livelihood of our people, the Ministry is mandated to promote and protect their interests and welfare,” said Minister Shava.

“The Ministry will thus aggressively pursue Diaspora diplomacy. Key to our engagement thrust with our Diaspora, is the aspect of bridging the confidence and trust gap that had developed over many years.”

lchikovahh@yahoo.com

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Financing Africa’s recovery.

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Financing Africa’s recovery: Is there an unfair risk premium on lending to the continent?

France 24’s François Picard leads a discussion in which Lionel Zinsou, former Prime Minister of Benin, and Marin Ferry, Asst. Prof. at the Université Gustave Eiffel, articulate their views on the treatment of African economies on the international bond markets and by credit rating agencies. Is there an anti-African stigma on the financial markets?

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Great Speeches

Return What You Stole From Africa, Chimamanda Adichie Tells Europe

Chimamanda Adichie Keynote Address Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany.

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Published: May 11, 2021 07:13 PM

The vociferous Pan-Africanist made the call at the Humboldt Forum, Berlin in Germany, where she stressed that the materials regarded as African art, represent the cultural identity, dignity and religious inclination of people in the region.

Below is the full transcript of Chimamanda’s courageous speech that went viral on the Internet.

IKENGA: African Sacred Object, Repository of Spiritual Meaning

WHEN I was researching my second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, which is set during the Nigerian Biafran war that started in 1967, a woman told me a story about her elderly father. It was early in the war and they were in the Biafran hometown, feeling relatively safe because the war seemed far away. Then suddenly they heard the loud terrifying sounds of bombing very close to them, and they knew that they had only minutes to leave their home and run into the interior for safety, before the Nigerian soldiers arrived.

The elderly father was a wealthy man, but the only thing he rushed to take with was his Ikenga, a piece of wood, a beautifully carved piece of wood, but it wasn’t just a piece of wood, it was also the repository of spiritual meaning. The Ikenga represented his Chi, his personal spirit as well as his ancestors, his guardian angels.

I was struck by this story. This man, facing the possibility of never seeing his home again, chose the thing that mattered most to him. Of cause, he cared about his material possessions, but he believed that those things can eventually be replaced, while his Ikenga was irreplaceable.

There are Ikengas in various museums all over the world today and it is easy to forget as we stare and admire them behind cold and clinical glass barriers that these are objects that are religious, spiritual, and sacred.

Art lives in history and history lives in art. Much of what we call African art are as well documents that tell stories. Some are literal in the storytelling like the beautifully ornate Benin Stool that was sent to the Oba of Benin by his people when he was exiled by the British and which he looked at and immediately could deduce from the carvings, the State of his British plundered land.

Other sculptures and carvings are more metaphorical, they speak to the dignity of the people, to their worldview and to their aspirations.

Some of the early Christian missionaries across the African continent were very keen on destroying African art, carved African deities which they told the Africans, were just magic. I cannot help but riley wonder what could be more magical than the story of a man who dies and then magically rises again; a man who also manages to magically give his body as bread, and I say this by the way, as a newly returned Roman Catholic.

The point is that belief systems vary, and as long as they feed the spiritual needs of a people, they are valid. We cannot be dismissive of a belief system merely because it is unfamiliar to us, just as we cannot be dismissive of a history because we are uncomfortable with it.

How Europe Distort African History of Colonization

So I would like to tell a small story about a Nigerian woman who is married to a Belgium and has lived in Belgium for many years. She said once that she was shocked that her son, while being taught Belgian history was taught nothing about Congo. “They teach my son in school that he must help the poor Africans” she said, “but they don’t teach him about what Belgium did in Congo.” Now, if Hassan does not learn that the modern Congo State began 100 years ago as the personal property of a brutal Belgian King, who was desperate to get wealthy from ivory and rubber; if her son does not learn that the hands of Congolese people were chopped off with rusty axes for not producing enough resources to meet a cast, because we collectively acknowledge that it is so. It is not that Europe has denied its colonial history that would be too crude; it’s instead that Europe has developed a way of telling the story of its colonial history that ultimately seeks to erase that history.

The former French Prime Minister, Nicolas Sarkozy gave a now infamous Speech in Senegal in which he said I have not come to deny mistakes or crimes; mistakes were made and crimes committed, but no one can ask the generation of today to expiate this crime perpetrated by past generations. This is central to the story that Europe tells itself about its colonial history. It is a story that basically says, yes colonialism happened, but, and whatever comes after the ‘but’ is the focus of the story. What the focus on the ‘but’ does is that it absolves, it frees Europe of responsibility of a significant and traceable connection to the African present and it allows Europe the glow of charity.

But the truth is that the past does not merely tell us what happened yesterday. It also merely illuminates what happens today. If we acknowledge that present-day Europe is shaped by the renaissance of 600 years ago, by the enlightenment of 300 years ago, then surely we cannot say that what happened merely 100 years ago in Africa no longer matters; it matters.

We are gathered today in this reconstructed palace, a beautiful place, but also a place that represents Germany’s nostalgia for imperial times. When Kaiser William the second lived here, German troops were killing children, women and men in South West Africa; this building says that German history matters even in a romanticized form.

The history of Africa, Asia and Latin America must matter as well. We cannot pick and choose which histories and which point of views that still matter, because to do this would be an ugly exercise of brute power.

And speaking of power, here is a headline I just read in a German publication. The headline says ‘where do Africa’s treasures belong?’ Now imagine this headline differently; imagine if it said, ‘where do Germany’s treasures belong?’ It would be a redundant question because, of cause, Germany’s treasures belong in Germany. But the question would never even be asked, because there would be no circumstance in which it would be, because of power and so it seems to me that what we are fundamentally grappling with in this space in all of these questions about the Humboldt forum is power. Unequal power and how we navigate unequal power relations and there has always been to me something shabby about unequal power relations, the victory feels colorless, almost unearned.

Call On Germany To Toe Part Of Courage, Return To Africa What Isn’t Theirs

So, I spoke of Belgium and its colonial history but what of Germany and its colonial history? Do school children here learn about Namibia, what was called the German South West Africa? Do school children know that one hundred thousand Herero people were murdered by the Germans, do they know of the Whales that were poisoned, do they know of the women used as sex slaves and others as slaves in German camps? Do they know of the Nama people killed and of the Majimaji revolt in German East Africa and why should they know? Because, to tell only part one part of a story is essentially to lie.

A story is true only when it is complete. Germany is Beethoven and Germany is back and Germany is also its colonial atrocities that has resulted in hundreds of African skulls being stored in the basement of museums here in Berlin; skulls of men whose spirits cannot be at rest; men who could well have been my great-grand father had I happened to have been born in Eastern Germany, rather than Western Africa.

It is only fair to fully own all of the stories of Germany. All countries have parts of their pasts that they’re not proud of, that they would rather forget, but it takes courage to face those parts and bring in some light, and this is time for courage, the courage to hear dissenting voices such as those of the people who are outside right now protesting, they should be heard and included, they have valid concerns.

The courage not to merely say we take your criticism, but to follow it with action; the courage to say, we were wrong, the courage to say about art acquired illicitly, ‘this is not ours, tell us what to do with it.’ The courage to do provenance work and to actively use local knowledge; the courage to act and to act now and not become crippled by endless planning and endless talking; the courage to believe that it can be better.

We cannot change the past but we can change our blindness to the past. And why by the way, is the term ethnological used for art from certain parts of the world and not for other parts of the world.

In discussing some of this art that we term ethnological, and I would argue that the language itself already suggests a hierarchy of value. When we talk about this art, we were told that they cannot be returned to Africa; for example because Africans will not take good care of them. It is not merely condescending to say I cannot return what I stole from you, because you will not take good care of it; it is also lacking in basic logic, since when has the basis of ownership been taking good care of what is owned.

This position is paternalistic arrogance of the most stunning sort. It does not matter whether Africans or Asians or Latin Americans can take care of the arts stolen from them;, what matters is that it is theirs.

The brilliant Nigerian artist Viktor Hickameno put it much better than I could and in very Nigerian terms, he says, ‘if I come and steal your wrapper, and I say I won’t give you back your wrapper because you will not tie it properly around your waist or you will not wash it well and so the colors would fade or this or that, all are irrelevant. The wrapper is mine and I can do with it what I will. Give me back my wrapper because it is mine. The metaphorical wrapper for those of you who are befuddled by wrapper, it’s a piece of cloth. It should be returned for the reason that Ahika men are illustrates which is respecting the property of others, but also because Europe has defined itself as a place of certain values, progress, liberty, fraternity, tolerance, individual rights and most it all, the rule of law.

A nation that believes in the rule of law, cannot possibly be debating whether to return stolen goods, it just returns them. So, if the dignity of those from whom the art was stolen does not matter, then surely this idea should matter that Europe should be what it claims to be, live up to the ideals with which you define yourself. I should pause here and note that sometimes these conversations run the risk of sounding like empty moralizing or like asking for the impossible or the unrealistic or insisting on an unattainable purity and perfection.

Obviously I don’t think everything should be sent to the countries from which they came. Not everything was stolen. But those things that are sacred, those things for whom people were killed, those things that have in them the stain of innocent blood should be returned.

Obviously we do not have all the information, but there are facts lost in unrecorded history, but we can draw reasonable conclusion based on information that we do have. We can deduce for example that the Ingonso, the beautiful sculpture of the founder and guiding spirit of the Ensui people of Cameroun, a former German colony, could not possibly have been obtained under benign circumstances because why would you willingly give up your guiding spirit. It is also important to remember that not all wounds are visible, some wounds we carry in our hearts inherited from our parents, passed on to our children.

But this discourse is of course not just about the Humboldt Forum, it is about museums all over Europe in France and Vatican, in Britain and I must acknowledge that Germany is the first of the powerful European nations that has made a gesture towards returning the Benin bronzes, but it is also interesting that the announcement said that a substantial amount would be returned which made me wonder how this would be determined and by whom.

And it is equally interesting that it is British colonial loot rather than German colonial loot that is being returned by Germany. But still, it is progress and Germany’s action, this gesture towards righting what is wrong must be acknowledged. My acknowledgement of it is not to say that the work is done, but that the work has started, and that perhaps, a place like the British museum and I know that Neil is here which owns the majority of the Benin bonzes might perhaps be inspired by the German decision and hopefully the British museum will rethink its policy of retain and explain which is unacceptable.

So, this is the Humboldt Forum. A forum usually implies among other things a space created for a free exchange of ideas, one can only hope that the Humboldt would live up to its name as a space for true intercultural and trans-cultural exchange of ideas in mutual respect between the cultures. But this rhetoric free exchange of ideas must be practical and by that I mean such things as travel visas, it must be easy for people from Africa, Asia and Latin America who should participate in this conversations to get travel visas.

The Humboldt Forum was conceived as a place to tell the universal story of the human race from multiple perspectives. This is a commendable idea, but it is incomplete, because again, we must confront the issue of power, who tells the story, who is the teller, and who is told about, who decided that African art should be labeled ethnological; who has the right to exhibit the other. Can the Humboldt Forum be an opportunity, can it become among other things, a project of remembering solemn, honest and mutual respect.

In conclusion, I want to say that I believe very much in dialogue, and I really believe that we can recreate the world by acting more courageously. To act with courage is to have concrete hope in a better future, we carve out a small space of the world, we shape and we reshape it and in that way small slice by small slice we walk slowly, yes, but we walk on the path to real progress.

Courage and hope are intertwined. Courage is an act of hope and hope is born of courage. Act of courage create hope, and there is nothing more essential to the human spirit than hope. So, here is the courage, thank you.

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Diaspora

FULL LIST: 8 Zimbabwean-born Win British Elections

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A total of 8 United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean-born politicians have won top political posts in the British elections in the last 12 months.

So far, two Zimbabwean-born have won the mayorship posts, one (Maggie Chapman who last week announced her oath in pure ChiShona) won the MP post while the rest are councillors.

Their ages range from 22 with the oldest being 56-year-old. The youngest, Nicolle Moyo last week told ZimEye she hadn’t even graduated when she discovered she has won the polls in the just-ended elections.

Below is the full list so far, comprising 6 women and 2 men:

  1. Amanda Tandi, 47 -. Councillor, District Of Knebworth.
  2. Nicolle Nkazimulo Moyo, 22 – Councillor. Peterborough.
  3. Lorraine Chirisa, 45 – Councillor, Northampton.
  4. Tafadzwa Chikoto, 45 – Councillor, Oakley, Corby
  5. Kate Nicoll, 33. – Mayor: Belfast.
  6. Alice Mpofu Coles, 56 – Councillor, Whitley, Reading.
  7. Adam Jogee, 30. – Mayor, Harringey.
  8. Maggie Chapman, 41, MP for North East Scotland.

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