Time to fine-tune economic diplomacy

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MAJOR highlights noted in the country’s progress, as we celebrated our 41 years of independence last week, were the great strides the country has made in economic development in a variety of spheres.

This includes mining, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, among others.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa also noted how enablers to the smooth development of our economy had been fine-tuned.

Among these are electricity, water and fuel.

There is no more massive load shedding, no fuel shortages and there is a deliberate policy to build dams and resuscitate irrigation infrastrcure.

However, efforts to promote development should not be limited entirely to the domestic front.  

That is why we welcome new Foreign Affairs and Investment Trade Minister Ambassador Fredrick Shava’s novel approach to diplomacy.

In his maiden official engagement with senior management and members of staff in Harare earlier this week, Ambassador Shava emphasised the need for economic and commercial diplomacy.

Indeed, diplomacy shouldn’t  be restricted solely to politics.

For this reason, he suggested diplomats and all Foreign Affairs Ministry staff receive training in economic and commercial diplomacy.

Indeed, it should be the task of our diplomats stationed in different countries to take the initiative in promoting the economic development of their country.

This shouldn’t be done haphazardly, hence the need for some reorientation.

They should always be on the lookout for investment opportunities that can benefit their country.

Of course, to persuade would-be investors to commit themselves would require some marketing skills.

We, therefore, believe marketing will be among the skills to be imparted in the economic and commercial diplomacy training.

Some of these potential investors do not even know where Zimbabwe is.

Investment opportunities are there in Zimbabwe and potential investors can only come if they are made aware of them.

Thus, investor hunting becomes a major task.

When there is investment on a big scale, so too would be the need for more export markets.

Markets will have to be found in countries where our diplomats are stationed.

They are definitely there.

For that reason, our diplomats should not be armchair ambassadors.

They should be able to sniff around for all investment opportunities by going out to look for them.

Their performance should not be assessed on the basis of the number of conferences they organise or attend, but rather on the amount of business they are able to generate, be it through sourcing of investors or finding new markets for our exports.

However, as we  seek co-operation through economic ties, this should always be on a win-win basis.

Our sovereignty should never be compromised.

Investors, no matter how big their investments, have to respect us as we are.

That is what Zimbabwe, on its part, always does.

We are open to business, but never to abuse!

There is no room for that big brother condescending attitude.

Ambassador Shava also called for efforts to engage those in the  Diaspora to make them work towards the socio-economic development of the country. 

By virtue of staying outside their home country, they are automatically our ambassadors.

It is a pity there are some in the Diaspora who tend to forget their country of origin.

No matter how sweet life may be in the country of refuge, they will remain Zimbabweans.

It is better they work towards promoting the economic development of their country of origin.

It is there where their brothers, sisters, cousins, aunties, uncles and perhaps even fathers and mothers are.  

Home is always best.

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