Joseph Madzimure, Harare Bureau
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday met foreign media correspondents based in Zimbabwe as part of the new dispensation’s re-engagement drive to end years of isolation from the global community.
President Mnangagwa has been pursuing local, regional and international engagement which is a departure from the old dispensation which was averse to even local engagement with business and civil society.
Ever since he came into office in November 2017, the Head of State has been on an engagement offensive with local civil society, churches, political parties, private media and captains of industries.
President Mnangagwa’s international re-engagement drive has resulted in the recent launch of a formal dialogue process between Zimbabwe and the European Union.
The meeting with foreign media correspondents yesterday comes hard on the heels of President Mnangagwa’s maiden radio interview on Capitalk FM last Friday.
Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said the majority of the contingent were Zimbabweans who are now free to do their work in the employ of foreign news services.
“The engagement was done in the true spirit of the New Dispensation which is based on freedom, openness and constitutionalism in the service of the national interest,” Mr Mangwana said.
“As a Government we have moved on from an era where Zimbabweans who reported for foreign media houses could not find space to practice their profession in this country, ending up with scores of them leaving the country because they did not feel comfortable working here. The Government’s attitude is that we are fortunate that the majority of these foreign media correspondents are Zimbabwean nationals.
“They can distinguish fact from fiction on the Zimbabwean narrative. But more importantly these are people who are invested in both the image of their home country and its success. It’s a great place to be to have the Zimbabwean story being told through the mouths of Zimbabweans.
“They don’t need to be told much in terms of context because they are already socialised to that context. They are familiar with the background and more importantly they identify with the national interest,” said Mr Mangwana.
He called for the need to support foreign media correspondents so that they can report positively about Zimbabwe.
“So, rather than seeing these correspondents as a threat, we see them as partners in telling the authentic Zimbabwean story,” Mr Mangwana said.
“To a very large extent, the image of Zimbabwe is determined by mass media reportage in other countries. It is important that the people that report on this country get to know the principal (President Mnangagwa), his vision and direction.
“Armed with that their analyses will be more informative and deeper than where they have never engaged with the President.
“This is why in today’s engagement there was no question which was off-limits. The media practitioners were free to ask whatever they wanted and His Excellency adequately responded to all of them”.
President Mnangagwa is credited with detoxifying Zimbabwe’s internal politics through his initiation of dialogue while he has also prioritised re-engagement in statecraft.