GOVERNMENT yesterday claimed that brand Zimbabwe was dented following an enslaught by Western nations after the country embarked on the 2000 fast-track land reform programme.
Speaking at a retreat for Foreign Affairs ministry senior officials and ambassadors in Bulawayo yesterday, Information and Publicity minister Monica Mutsvangwa said in order to create a good image for the country, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s second republic came up with a re-engagement strategy.
“Our national brand suffered from the assault on our image by the West following the fast-track land reform programme of 2000 in which the government compulsorily acquired excess agricultural land from white former commercial farmers and redistributed it to the black majority from whose ancestors it had been forcibly taken by white settlers," Mutsvangwa said.
She said the Western countries then imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe to reverse the land reform exercise.
“The sanctions were also meant to hurt the ordinary citizens so that they could revolt against the government and remove it from power, replacing it with one which would be subordinate to the West."
She blamed Western media for further battering Zimbabwe’s image, saying this had resulted Zimbabwe being ostracised by the rest of the world.
“It is against this background that we found it imperative to re-assert our real identity and spruce up our image and begin to play a part in the community of nations, hence the Brand Zimbabwe Project launched on September 5, 2022,” she said.
Her utterances came as Zimbabwe’s human rights and democracy records are under scrutiny.
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Last week, the British Parliament debated the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, particularly electoral violence in Matobo and Insiza, and the incarceration of opposition legislators Job Sikhala (Zengeza West) and Godfrey Sithole (Chitungwiza North) as well as 13 other Citizens Coalition for Change supporters. Mutsvangwa claimed that Mnangagwa’s “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra had worked well, paving way for new relations.
She said consultations were underway with the private sector and marketers to promote competitive Zimbabwean brands and products internationally.
“Our bountiful mineral resources are exciting and attract the attention of world-class corporate boardrooms. Who could have dreamt that Tsingshan Holdings Group, ranked number 238 on the Fortune 500 conglomerates would establish a full carbon steel ecosystem in Zimbabwe?”
She said lithium was another low-hanging fruit for Zimbabwe as the world migrates from fossil fuels to electric vehicles.
“A whopping $700 million dollars worth of mergers and acquisitions have been occurring covering Arcadia in Goromonzi, Sabi in Buhera and Zulu Lithium in Bikita — all this in a mere five months’ span.
“We have new industrial parks on the books, ports, rail, road and border logistics are on the drawing board. New electricity power generators at Hwange are poised to be fired soon to add to the recently expanded Kariba South Power Station. There is more planned to meet the burgeoning new industrial capacity," she said.
On agriculture, she boasted that the country’s granaries are full to the brim, adding that Zimbabwe should be allowed to compete freely on the international stage.