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  • Writer's picturerutendo matinyarare


Updated: Mar 25, 2023

President not happy with government communication in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Communication Monica Mutsvangwa

A recent article by New Zimbabwe has highlighted the President's dissatisfaction with the government's communication efforts.

The President has expressed disappointment with the government's inability to effectively communicate his vision and the successes of his administration.

While participating in efforts to address this issue and having spoken with various government stakeholders, I have identified a few key factors that contribute to the problem.

One of the main issues is the lack of independent voices telling the President's story. It is essential to have voices outside the government that can communicate the President's successes and vision objectively, to win acceptance from people who are skeptical about the government’s communication.

Additionally, the government has not prioritized communication, the creation of independent media, and local communicators. Instead, vast amounts of money have been invested in foreign PR companies and lobbyists who are disconnected and indifferent to Zimbabwean issues, resulting in little success.

However, local communicators, bloggers, and social media influencers have made immense and impressive strides in promoting Zimbabwe to the world. They have successfully turned around the false sanctions narrative, changed the ANC government's outlook on the government, and alienated the CCC in the region, attracting global influencers to Tell The Good Zimbabwe Story.

An excellent example is Wode Maya, a Ghanaian blogger with a multi-million audience who visited Zimbabwe and generated over 1 million views for Zimbabwe's top tourist sites last year. His visit was made possible by the help of the Mutsvangwa family and myself, and his content creation efforts ignited interest on Zimbabwe and attracted more international influencers (even white South Africans) to promote Zimbabwe.

However, Wode Maya and these unpaid brand ambassadors who have invested their own resources to promote brand Zimbabwe so creatively, have not received adequate support or acknowledgment from the President or his government, as the useless foreign PR agencies have.

The private agencies and experts that drove these successful viral campaigns on zero budget, have not been recognized or supported, yet these are the voices that the President and his administration need to be authoritative enough to communicate Zimbabwe's story globally and convincingly.

As a result of this deficit in investment in communicators and broadcasters, some of our best communicators are being forced to use their talents to decampaign Zimbabwe for countries that are opposed to Zimbabwe, but reward them with awards and financial remuneration.

To address these challenges, over the past five years, we have proposed creating professional high-quality documentaries, GIFs, TV shows, games and skits on the President's tenure, sanctions, sanctions-busting, international law on sanctions, our liberation struggle, and the history of MaDzimbabwe to build national pride, unite the people and bulletproof the government from negative publicity.

However, the broadcaster and the Ministry of Communication have repeatedly lamented that as much as they would like to produce such content, they do not have a sufficient budget to execute such projects.

Meanwhile, the opposition has caught on to this strategy and beat the government to the punch by using documentaries to decampaign the President and his administration, as we witnessed with the Al Jazeera teaser recently.

This illustrates that the communication lapse is not due to incompetent government communicators, but rather the government (treasury) not investing in communication because it does not prioritize it as important for the critical function of the nation, yet negative brand equity, national division and citizen indifference, remain the bane of the Zimbabwean government.

We have also realized that when the government sees talent, it often tries to recruit it to work in government, instead of supporting it to grow privately into having continental influence (as was done with Econet), to springboard the Zimbabwean story wider.

It's important that the government invests in independent voices, communicators, and media houses to communicate the President's, government's and Zimbabwe’s vision, achievements, and challenges more effectively to earn buy-in from stakeholders.

We recommend that the government focus on empowering local, home-grown, independent voices, communicators, influencers and media houses (as America did CNN and its major stations) to communicate smartly, effectively, and with wider reach.

In summary, the President must ensure that his treasury invests more in communication and prioritizes developing local, independent voices to leverage brand Zimbabwe more competitively onto the global stage, to win over skeptics of the government.

By Rutendo Bereza Matinyarare Marketing and Brand Strategist for Frontline Strat Marketing Consultancy and Chairman of ZASM (Zimbabwe Anti Sanctions Movement).