In July 2019, I wrote a proposal to a high-ranking government official about how Zimbabwe needs to turn around negative sentiment by producing world-class documentaries to showcase the great work being done by the President, his government, and the challenges they face.
By the end of the year, I was asked to write another proposal on sanctions and how to fight them. Early last year, I was approached, flown to Harare, and commissioned to write yet another proposal by a trusted confidant of the President.
However, when the confidant asked me to write another proposal, I was tired and no longer interested. I had written enough proposals and suggested that they use the previous ones.
Nevertheless, the confidant offered me a sweetener, which got me sitting on my computer for over 240 hours, crafting yet another document because I knew that he had the power to get these documentaries produced.
In this proposal, as with all the others, I reiterated how the government should shift sentiment and win the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans by producing documentaries that highlight the amazing Zimbabwe story, showcase the President's successes, and challenges his government faces.
If these stakeholders had implemented the documentaries since 2019, it would have strengthened the nation's image globally, united the nation more, celebrated the President's achievements, and Al Jazeera would have had no basis for its false claims. People would, by now, understand the intricacies of mining and the role it plays in sanctions-busting.
Three weeks ago, before the documentary was released, I reached out again to a few key personnel in the government and asked them to constitute a multidisciplinary communication team to plan a coordinated response to the documentary. However, no one was interested.
Now, the government is left reacting to the Gold Mafia in a disjointed manner. At one moment, they are legitimizing it, and next, they are discrediting it when it puts the President in disrepute. They should have planned their holding statements and key messages beforehand.
With the President complaining about his successes not being showcased a few weeks ago, and the way his team handled the documentary fallout, I am left wondering if some around the President are sabotaging him (playing bhora musango) and denying him the benefits of proactive strategic communication.
Even more concerning is how the Al Jazeera documentary had precisely the same effect as my proposed documentaries, but, this time in decampaigning the government, causing the exact crisis that my documentaries were meant to shield the government from.
Did someone leak my proposal to detractors of the government instead of getting the government to execute a preemptive documentary series? We will never know.
This is why I am angry because there are gatekeepers around the President who are sitting on ideas while our national brand equity is being eroded. They treat brand Zimbabwe like their private property, and some have suggested that they have other masters.
#NyikaInovakwaNeVeneVayo, Tisu vene vacho.
By Rutendo Matinyarare.