Where ‘Brand Zimbabwe’ will either rise or fall


One: “People from all walks of life” must believe in Brand Zimbabwe

“Each Chilean is responsible for this great task and is called to become an ambassador of the country’s unique and positive qualities,” Cortes found.

That’s just it. Many governments, including ours, spend millions paying lobbyists to look good. But the biggest brand ambassadors are us, the “people from all walks of life”.

When someone buys into a brand and it works for them, they are going to promote it, and defend it.

Once, when there was national crisis – a debilitating shortage of Cerevita – I am not ashamed to reveal that I may or may not have fought a lady at Pick n Pay for the last box of Choco Malt. Sorry, ma’am. Also, I intervene with acts of targeted violence when people slander Mazoe. Why? Because I believe in those brands.

If Zimbabweans feel that Zimbabwe – and its government – is working for them, they don’t need to be whipped into marketing it. They have ownership and loyalty.

As Joshua Nkomo said, on July 7, 1983: “The people themselves will protect their government if they have full trust in it.”

Two: Government comms must be credible

In Zimbabwe, especially online, facts are often caught somewhere between two extremes.

On one hand is government and its rather dim propaganda. On the other hand, is a coterie of digital warriors who get a heat rash at the sight of the slightest positive content about Zimbabwe.

Why is this so? Well, of course while many point out that negativity is “good content” for some, there is a bigger problem; State propaganda.

Now, let’s be real. Just about every country on earth does propaganda. We just happen to do ours badly, really badly. It is too obvious, and too blunt. A case in point: how State media ran the “mega deals” stories from 2018. They could have covered projects calmly, as economic stories, and still reflected well on the government. Instead, they overblew it to the extent that even prospective investors were burnt, and any news of investment today is laughed at.

Now, when something genuinely good happens, there’s fodder to discredit it.

Recently, John Basera, the Agriculture Secretary, posted aerial pictures of wheat fields under centre-pivot irrigation. He was illustrating the point that Zimbabwe has planted more wheat this year. The reactions? “This is not Zimbabwe…why are you just googling images from the internet”.

The impressive pictures were, in fact, from Zimbabwe.

But, some who said this had genuine reason to doubt. For some reason, government platforms, including State media and officials, often use foreign pictures to illustrate local projects; a dam in Japan being used to show the Gwayi Shangani Dam, a road in Nigeria used for the Masvingo highway. It’s a puzzle why they do this, when local images are just a click away.

So, when Basera, or any other person, posts pictures or news of any progress, they must face a digital firing squad.

Now, if you’re going to rebrand your country, you’re going to do it with honesty, and a high degree of diligence on what content you use. We have enough good content about Zimbabwe. We don’t need to borrow from the internet. We just need to package it better. Be credible.

Continued next page


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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