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Minister Shava ropes in media to deliver on strategy

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19 MAY, 2021


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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.


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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.


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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.


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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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Politics

‘Liz Truss’s energy plan is not enough to help us’

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liz truss

Scottish businesses have warned Liz Truss that her plan to help firms cope with energy bills may not be enough to prevent a “tsunami” of closures.


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The prime minister will cap average annual household energy bills at £2,500 for two years, with companies receiving “equivalent support”.

But hospitality bosses facing soaring costs have criticised a lack of clarity from Westminster.


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The government insists its strategy will help boost economic growth.

Businesses, as well as charities and public buildings, will see their energy costs capped at the same price per unit that households will pay under the new plans.


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The commercial scheme is set to run for six months and is to be reviewed after three – at which point targeted support could be introduced for certain sectors deemed to be particularly vulnerable.

However, Scottish hospitality business owners have told BBC Scotland that Ms Truss’s statement was short on detail.


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Pub owner Billy Gold said the prime minister’s announcement did little to allay his fears

Billy Gold, owner of the Heilen Jessie bar in Glasgow’s east end, has seen his standing charges alone increase by 600%.

He warned that the UK government’s proposals would do little to stave off the crisis facing his family business.

“To say businesses will receive equivalent support I think is ambiguous in the extreme,” Mr Gold said.

“If that means ‘look how well I’ve done, things won’t go any higher’, I’m sorry Liz, things are too high already and my business, like many businesses, is on its uppers.”

The publican explained he would have to charge £8.40 for a pint of his cheapest lager, as well as increasing turnover, to keep his firm on an even keel.

“You don’t need to be Alan Sugar to figure out that isn’t going to happen,” he told the BBC.

Mr Gold, who described small and medium enterprises as the “lifeblood” of the economy, said he may have to start reducing his staff of 11 local workers.

“I don’t even want to say it but if I’ve got to do it I don’t have a choice,” he added.

“It would break my heart to be the guy that’s got to do that but if that’s what I’ve got to do, that’s what I will do.

“But you cannae run a business without staff. You’re then on a race to the bottom, a downward spiral.”

Singl-end boss Paul Banham is demanding clarity from the UK government

Paul Banham, operations director of the Singl-end cafe and bakehouses in Glasgow, said the prime minister’s statement had sparked confusion.

He told the BBC: “I don’t know what will happen if I’ve signed up to a contract two months ago, will the price cap still apply to that?

“There’s also talk of a sector-specific review over the next few months to try and come up with more targeted help.

“The hospitality industry would say there was some targeted help during Covid so why can’t some of that support not be applied straight away? Why does it have to be a three-month wait?”

Mr Banham added: “Many businesses won’t be able to survive while they wait.”

He said VAT cuts and business rates relief would also be required to save struggling hospitality firms.

“A price cap is a basic starting minimum to stop the impending tsunami of businesses closing,” he said.

“Every week that goes by, every month that goes by, operators are getting pushed to the brink.”

Baker Andrew Chisholm says his firm will struggle to survive the next year

Andrew Chisholm, who runs Airdrie-based Christie the Baker, is also awaiting further clarity from the government.

“It’s all guesswork,” he said. “There’s nobody giving me precise figures off the back of what we heard this morning.

“We still haven’t really seen the devil in the detail.”

His firm is facing a 600% gas bill increase under Ms Truss’s proposals, with a further 200% hike in electricity costs.

“Going forward, the way the gas price is, it will be unsustainable,” he added.

“I still think that it’s going to be very, very difficult running this business in the next 12 months.”

‘Cliff edge’

The Federation of Small Businesses Scotland has warned that one in six small firms is expecting to close, be sold or downsize in the next year.

Policy chair Andrew McRae “warmly welcomed” Ms Truss’s announcement, but added: “We do need more detail and we’ll be working with the new government to clarify what happens next.

“The six-month lifeline to get businesses through the winter is vital, but this must not result in a cliff edge with businesses being hit even harder in the spring.”

The UK government says its price cap will spark economic growth and curb inflation by as much as 5%.

Ms Truss told MPs: “Extraordinary challenges call for extraordinary measures, ensuring that the United Kingdom is never in this situation again.”


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Politics

South Sudan president announces new parliament

South Sudan leader Kiir decrees new parliament

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By AFP


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Published: May 11, 2021 07:13 PM

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir announced a new parliament on Monday including lawmakers from opposing sides of the country’s civil war as part of a 2018 peace accord, state television reported.


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A new legislative body was a condition of the 2018 accord between himself and Vice President Riek Machar, for years on opposition sides during the five-year civil war that left 380,000 people dead and four million displaced.

“Reconstituting” the country’s parliament had been due in February 2020, but had still not taken place, prompting the ire of the opposition. 


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Kiir dissolved the previous parliament on Saturday ahead of the change.

A decree by Kiir was then read out on the South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation on Monday, including the names of the national assembly legislators. In accordance with the accord, the new assembly will number 550 lawmakers, up from the previous 400.


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Of these 332 deputies were chosen by Kiir, 128 by Machar, and 90 others by signatory parties, in line with the peace deal. 

The decree did not mention the upper house state council which was also dissolved late Saturday. The dissolution of parliament came on the eve of a visit to the capital Juba by US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth.

Kiir and Machar formed a coalition government in February 2020.

However few provisions of the truce have been honored, and analysts have warned of the threat of a return to war. Brutal communal conflicts continue in the last six months of 2020.


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Governance

Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial over arms deal pushed back

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15:07 17 May


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Nomsa Maseko

BBC Southern Africa correspondent


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The corruption trial of South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma has been pushed to 26 May where a formal plea will be entered.

He is expected to plead not guilty.


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Mr Zuma’s supporters gathered outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court ahead of his appearance.

The former president faces 16 counts of corruption relating to a multi-billion-dollar arms deal.


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A total of 217 witnesses are expected to testify against him.

The case centres on an arms deal with French arms company Thales that was meant to modernise South Africa’s defence in the late 1990s.

Both Mr Zuma and the company have denied the charges which include fraud, racketeering and money laundering.


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