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‘We need to shape our media industry’ – The Zimbabwe Independent

INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa, local publishers and media practitioners this week attended the first edition of the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Global Media Congress provided a platform for media players to discuss new business models and enable new business breakthroughs and reinventing companies. Zimbabwe Independent editor Faith Zaba (FZ) caught up with Mutsvangwa (MM) in the UAE to discuss the state of the media in the country. Below are the excerpts of the interview.

FZ: Why is it important for Zimbabwe to participate at this congress?

MM: We are very excited as a country to be invited. These are the results of the engagement and re-engagement afforded by our President Emmerson Mnangagwa. We are here as a media team. When I was invited, they asked who I wanted to bring, I chose media experts, gurus and media owners. I managed to bring in both public and private media. We are doing this in the spirit of inclusiveness as our President’s mantra. This congress has been a wonderful platform which has given everyone an opportunity to learn a lot from delegates and key media players who are here. We have more than 1 200 here and there are more than 30 countries exhibiting here.

FZ: We have seen a lot of new innovations here, Zimbabwe is lagging behind, what role can the government play to boost innovation?

MM: New technology in the media industry is all here. We are learning a lot in terms of the media challenges which affect the whole world. Of course, for Zimbabwe not to be left behind, we are actually embracing digitalisation. The digitalisation project is something that we need to complete. We need to get everyone on board.

FZ: In terms of media reforms, where are we and what more should we expect?

MM: With the advent of social media, these are the disruptive technologies, which actually threaten the traditional media. It is important that we get all these cutting-edge solutions from these experts, who are at this congress to make sure that we see the viability of our traditional media and at the same time embracing social media. We are also here to learn a lot about fake news, how to deal with fake news, disinformation, misinformation, the importance of information to each and every one and universal access to information to our people.

FZ: What is the ministry doing to improve the operating environment for media organisations in terms of policies and working environment?

MM: There is a lot that Zimbabwe has done in the Second Republic, within the last four years. Under the stewardship of our President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as a ministry we have managed to licence 14 community radio stations and eight campus radio stations at universities because research is important academia as we move to make sure that media industry grows. The idea is to shape our media industry to make sure that the industry grows and there is no reason why our media industry cannot grow in our country.

FZ: What needs to be done to boost the film industry. Africa earns more than US$5 billion a year?

MM: I have highlighted the Human Index, which is very high in Zimbabwe for investors, who are coming to Zimbabwe. It is not difficult to get all the skills which they may want. We want of course to create employment. We have also been talking to Filmgate, which is a very big company making films. I am saying Zimbabwe has got a talent pool of youngsters and people who are gifted in making films and as a ministry, we have got a film school. We want those collaborative ventures so that we can start at least to harness all that pool and make sure that we also make money like what Nigeria (Nollywood) and Kenya is doing. We already have recognised movies which have been shot in Zimbabwe, Gonarezhou is one. So we are saying this is the talent we want to harness and we want to get the international and UAE and New York cementing the market.

FZ: What is the ministry doing to create safe spaces for women journalists and equal opportunities for female journalists to excel?

MM: On the issue of women, when I was given this job, which is not an easy task, but a task that I have worked for. For me, failure is not an option. Women of Zimbabwe should work hard and they have proven that they are capable. As they have worked in the armed liberation struggle there was no easier training for women.  It was a war. If you were not a fully trained soldier you would die. So, women did it. Even before, they were also strategists and had merit.  There is only a need to change perceptions. We want more women in the newsrooms, not just as journalists but as editors. Journalists collect information but editors are the ones who control the content so we want to see more female editors.

I am proud to say working under President Mnangagwa, he used his own executive powers to increase the number of women in Cabinet. I am also seeing more women leading the media institutions for the first time. Our national broadcaster is led by a female CEO (Adelaide Chikunguru). We have Faith Zaba, (Victoria) Ruzvidzo at the Sunday Mail and many others, who have done extremely well. Women are very thorough and multi-talented. They have got these inborn multi-task abilities. They look after husbands, do household chores and this comes naturally. Those out there who see women as sexual objects, pity to them. Women have much to offer. We are not saying gender based violence. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a media house, public or private sector, we need respect from human beings and God created us in different ways to carry out work to improve our country.

FZ: In terms of media reforms, where are we and what more should we expect?

MM: From the time I was given this job by President ED Mnangagwa my mandate was to bring people together and brand our country. We also make sure that we open up media waves and truly this has happened 42 years after — better late than never. Now we have more than one television station in the country and we have made sure that all marginalised people are not left behind in the spirit of no one should be left behind. We have licenced community radios. We have gone out launching them and the communities have embraced our local languages.

FZ: You have said the President’s mantra is not leaving anyone behind; can you please expand on this?

MM: We have 16 local languages and they are all important. We want to make sure that all Zimbabweans are brought on board. That’s the spirit of inclusivity and that’s what our leader the President Dr Mnangagwa is for when he says Zimbabwe is open for business, engagement and reengagement is what has found us in the UAE so the success story goes on. We continue to do the media reforms – all that brings Zimbabwe together. What brings Zimbabwe together is Ubuntu. When we know our history is Zimbabwe, then we can take the right way forward.

FZ: The Covid -19 pandemic had a serious impact on the media, not only in Zimbabwe but globally. In some countries, state subsidies and tax breaks became more important than ever in securing the financial viability of media outlets. What is the Zimbabwe government doing to ensure media viability? Are we having such conversations?

MM: We are here to get all these ideas and I am glad that I took the media gurus from both public and private media so that nobody is left behind and we are very consultative when we do whatever do. We have carried out a number of reforms in our country where stakeholders have always been brought on board so that at least we get everyone’s idea and we then come up with a central idea which will take us where we want to go.

The challenges which have come due to Covid-19 we all saw how it affected, not only the media but I am happy as a ministry, we have worked very hard to make sure that our media industry which were designated as essential services, provided information during the pandemic.

FZ: As part of the government’s reforms, some organisations were awarded TV licences. Some have not launched. Are we likely to see these licences being revoked and more companies being licenced?

MM: The process of giving out licences was carried out by the statutory board, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe, which went through all the processes and the process was very transparent and accountable. One can follow through all those processes. There are deadlines for those who were given those licences and if they are not on air by that time they will obviously be withdrawn and the whole process will start again and it is done without fear or favour. People will apply and the processes are done very transparently, accountable and we want to see more of those televisions but I must say, already out of the six commercial television licences we issued out, three are already on air and two more will be coming soon. So we are happy about the progress and we will be happier if all of them can actually be on air and we would like to continue to see that we issue out more in the future.

FZ: We have met a lot of young Zimbabweans here and many are doing big things outside Zimbabwe, what is government doing to attract back the talent?

MM: When our President was being inaugurated, the first thing he did is he invited all vice chancellors of our universities and what he emphasised in the meeting is he wanted all universities to be proud of graduates who go out and make something, either a product or service, we do not want you to be churning out graduates who end up on the streets. This is why we have come up with innovation centres, hubs and industrial sites where we are seeing students actually producing products and service. During Covid-19 most of our personal protective equipment came out of our universities. So, the education 5.0 leads us to a society where we have to be innovative in whatever we are doing.

We cannot continue as a country of the future without embracing digitalisation, without embracing artificial intelligence. We as a developing country, we should be found to be embracing these technologies so that we step well with the whole of the world in the 4th industrial revolution. It is today and not in the future where we all have to do it. As a government we are doing our best. We just wish they remove these illegal sanctions, which are strangling us as a country in terms of accessing capital to make sure that we completely industrialise our country. We have everything in place, human resources indexes and natural resources in terms of any minerals which are required by the world.

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ZimSat-1 deployed into orbit – The Zimbabwe Mail – The Zimbabwe Mail




Zimbabwe is banking on its first satellite, ZimSat-1 to give impetus to plans to solve the country’s power challenges, as it has capacity to, among other things, map regions where there is high sun intensity for effective solar farm distribution.

Zimbabwe and Uganda last month launched their first homegrown satellites into space aboard a United Sates National Aeronautics and Space Administration rocket.

The Zimbabwean satellite, named ZimSat-1, was designed and assembled by three of the country’s scientists who were supported and trained in Japan under the Joint Global Multi-Nation Birds Satellite (BIRDS) Project.

The satelite was launched into orbit yesterday from the International Space Station where it arrived last month.

For Zimbabwe, which is battling acute power shortages due to frequent breakdowns at Hwange Thermal Power Station and water shortages at Kariba, the satellite gives impetus to the pursuit of strategies meant to ensure a healthy energy mix to guarantee sufficiency.

Project manager Victor Mukungunugwa said the satellite would play a key role in the development of solar farms.

“The satellite will also provide solar illumination mapping for effective solar farm distribution,” he said in a presentation before ZimSat-1 and Uganda’s Pearl of Africa-1 deployed into orbit.

“Through solar illumination, the satellite maps the regions where there is high solar intensity and thereby optimising the deployment of solar farms in Uganda and Zimbabwe to solve the electricity distribution.”

Zimbabwe has already expressed its determination to accelerate the use of renewable energies such as solar, to boost local power generation capacity.


Other economic sectors, such as agriculture, would also greatly benefit from the satellite, including through the provision of vital information such as harvest estimates, and crop health.

“This is with the aim to promote agriculture in Zimbabwe and Uganda,” he said.

“It will also provide soil fertility assessments to support agricultural activities. This will optimise the distribution of agricultural inputs to various agricultural regions in Uganda and Zimbabwe.”

ZimSat-1 also has the ability to provide data on water quality.

“The satellites seek to survey the water bodies in Zimbabwe and Uganda to see sources of contamination and eliminate the contamination at the source. This will, to a great extent, minimise the amount of chemicals used to purify drinking water,” he said.

Part of its mission also includes providing early warning services for incoming natural disasters such as floods and landslides.

At its launch to the International Space Station last month, President Mnangagwa hailed the occasion as a proud moment symbolising a nation on a technology driven trajectory to achieve its developmental aspirations.

The satellite is a culmination of the 2018 launch of the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA), which operates under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development.

The satellite is also expected to enhance mineral exploration and mapping human settlements. — New Ziana.


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Hwang gets the message, South Korea advances at World Cup – The Zimbabwe Mail

South Korea’s team players celebrate after the World Cup group H soccer match between South Korea and Portugal, at the Education City Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)


AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — The sign said it all. Hwang Hee-chan got the message.

A young South Korea fan held up a sign that read “One More Goal” during halftime of the team’s match against Portugal on Friday at the World Cup. The teams were even at 1-1 at the time, but the South Koreans needed another goal to earn a spot in the round of 16.

Hwang delivered the dramatic goal in stoppage time, lifting South Korea to a 2-1 victory and its third trip to the knockout stage of the World Cup.

“I’m glad I was able to give this present to the fans,” said Hwang, who pulled off his jersey and struck a classic muscle-man pose after scoring as thousands of South Korean fans burst into a screaming, cheering frenzy at the north end of Education City Stadium.

It’s South Korea third trip past the group stage at the World Cup. The team reached the semifinals as co-host in 2002 and then made it to the round of 16 in 2010.

Hwang missed the first two group games in Qatar with a hamstring injury, and entered as a substitute in the second half against Portugal.

“In the first match it was impossible for me to play and the pain got worse,” he said. “I did a little running, but I thought I could play the second match, but they held me out.”


He finally made an appearance on Friday. And it turned out to be a match-winning, World Cup-advancing appearance, too.

“It was a little bit of a risk,” Hwang said. “But I didn’t care what happened to me personally. I just wanted to contribute.”

South Korea was heading out of the tournament in the final minutes when a Portugal corner got cleared and Son Heung-min raced down the right side of the field. He slipped a pass through an opponent’s legs and into the path of Hwang, who converted with a low finish.

“When Son got the ball, I was convinced he would pass me the ball,” said Hwang, who said his coaches and teammates gave him confidence as he was about to enter the game.

“They told me I was going to create something,” he said. “A lot of teammates told me they trusted me.”

Cho Gue-sung, who scored two goals in South Korea’s 3-2 loss to Ghana in an earlier group game, summed up what thousands of fans in the stands — and millions at home — were thinking.

“It really feels like a miracle,” Cho said. “Our players really gave their best. Our coaching staff did a great job preparing us and everything came together. Our dreams came true.”

___


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Zimbabwe now one of the fastest growing African economies – Bulawayo24 News

ANALYSING Zimbabwe’s unconventional economy always proves somewhat cumbersome because it is a country bridled with policy inconsistency, unfavourable operating conditions buoyed by decades of unilateral sanctions and a touch of political upheaval at every election cycle.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic structural adjustment policy, 13 climate-related droughts, economic mismanagement and civil unrest have also contributed to the country’s rapid decline.

The lack of autonomy by the apex bank essentially means that monetary policy is compromised and is set to serve the interests of the ruling government, which can secure election funding willy-nilly to thwart the opposition.

Development has stalled for decades, as post-colonial infrastructure continues to dilapidate. Once Africa’s beacon, “the jewel of Africa” as it was formerly known, is now one of the saddest places to live in the world.

In fact, to put that into context, a recent study found that Zimbabwe was the third saddest country to live in the world, after Afghanistan and Lebanon in first and second place, respectively. Economic crisis after crisis has been the norm in one of the most resource-rich nations in Africa.

Although Zimbabwe’s mining sector is highly diversified, with over 40 different minerals, the ruling party has never been able to leverage the sectors’ returns to create value for its people.

Corruption persists like a festering wound slowly spreading to all of the state’s institutions.

From the outside, the situation looks dire and the economy is seemingly unlikely to return to its glory days. Most certainly, if the monetary authorities continue with their current policy trajectory, Zimbabwe will likely not attain middle-income status because simulations show that Zimbabwe will need to reach productivity growth rates of 8–9% per year in the next seven years to advance to UMIC status.

Achieving such unprecedented rates for Zimbabwe will require dramatic improvement in the policy environment to address the binding constraints to productivity growth.

The question is, does government have the incentive or the means to make such radical policy shifts, uncharacteristically? Well, there are two forces at play here. One is internal and within our control, but it is also important to take into account the impact of external forces such as sanctions.

First and foremost, sanctions have never achieved their intended purpose anywhere they were ever deployed. In fact, they often give rise to tyrannical governments that use the very sanctions as precedence for complete control of power.

Statistically, sanctions fail to achieve their aims in 65 to 95% of the cases in which they are imposed and it is the poorest that suffer the most through their implementation, rather than the elites that the sanctions aim to target.

Through the economic damage of the sanctions, a significant impact is felt by the public: GDP per capita decreases at an increased rate, exports and imports decrease, international capital decreases, and inflation increases.

Due to the already fragile economies of sanctioned countries, the sanctions run the risk of leading to an economic collapse, which in turn leads to greater impoverishment. As import and export-focused sectors are more affected by economic sanctions and these sectors tend to hire low-skilled workers, deprived groups in society are affected more by sanctions.

In 2001, Zimbabwe’s official development assistance reached a 20-year low of US$160,2 million as external debt reached 2,485% of the gross national income, a level not seen since the early 1980s.

For Zimbabwe, lost revenues reportedly exceeded US$42 billion from 2001 to 2019. Zimbabwe historically relied on foreign trade to sustain its economy. It last registered a trade surplus in 2000, at US$155 million, representing approximately 74% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

Overall production increased 1,44% in 2001 after a shortfall in previous years. However, sanctions targeted various entities in key productive sectors of the economy, including mining, manufacturing, tourism and agriculture, which made it challenging for Zimbabwe to rely on its trade and industry to promote growth. During the first decade under sanctions, the country’s trade balance spiralled to -23,8%, in 2010, and has stayed negative since then.

It does not end there. Sanctions also facilitated deindustrialisation, as key agriculture, mining and manufacturing companies were barred from selling their products in the United States and European Union markets.

The economic contraction went from -3,1% in 2000 to -17,7% in 2008. Thousands of workers were forced out of employment in the formal economy, and multiple local companies closed down. This nurtured the expansion of the informal sector as a method of resilience, estimated at 94,5% in 2014 and 75,6% in 2019.

Foreign direct investments were affected as investors avoided risks, given the negative perceptions about the economy and the country’s governance.

This led to increased unemployment, estimated at 94% in the formal sector by the end of 2008, and to a significant loss of qualified professionals. From 2000 to 2008, the gross national income per person fell by 35%.

The list of the effects of sanctions goes on and on, from humanitarian impacts, the access to food, water and sanitation, access to healthcare, education and basic fundamental human rights. The irony is that the west says it is fighting the abuse of human rights, but ends up inflicting worse damage on sanctioned economies.

Most economists consider this damage irreparable in the short term. Consequently, going into the 2023 election, even if the opposition party wins (let us assume sanctions are lifted), they will have to contend with the effects of the sanctions for at least half a decade.

Let us delve into the internal forces. Zimbabwe’s GDP growth in 2021, according to World Bank was 5,85%, making Zimbabwe the 10th fastest-growing economy in Africa in 2021.

Zimbabwe’s economic growth accelerated to an anticipated 5,9% in 2021 from a 6,2% fall in 2020 due to a bountiful harvest that expanded agriculture by 36,2% in 2021 as opposed to 4,2% growth in 2020.

The per capita GDP also increased, jumping by 4,9% in 2021 after declining by 6,7% in 2020. However, in 2022, economic growth was held down by unstable prices and deteriorating agricultural circumstances.

The real GDP growth rate is anticipated to decrease from 5,8% in 2021 to 3,4% in 2022. Zimbabwe’s economic growth is expected to end the year at 4% in 2022, down from 4,6% previously targeted, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said in a speech on Thursday.

Growth is then projected to slow to 3,8% in 2023 before increasing to 4,8% in 2024 and 5% in 2025, he said. The overall fiscal deficit is seen at 1,5% of GDP for next year.

“This growth will be sustained by mining, construction and agriculture, as well as accommodation sectors,” Ncube said.

The mining sector is expected to grow by 10,4% in 2023 on the back of anticipated favourable international mineral prices, as well as the increase in investment, especially in exploration, mine development and mechanisation, he added.

A barrage of measures introduced by government mid-year, which include the introduction of gold coins, the temporary suspension of bank lending, higher taxes on capital markets, a 200% policy rate, and the temporary suspension of payments to contractors, have seen the economy stabilising and recording growth, riding on investments in the mining, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

Month-on-month inflations for September significantly declined to 3,5% from 12,4% in August 2022. Meanwhile, foreign currency earnings amounted to US$7,7 billion for the eight months up to August 31 2022. 

This reflects a 32,4% increase from the US$5,8 billion recorded over the corresponding period in 2021. With increased activity in both the mining and manufacturing sectors where industrial capacity utilisation is now at 66% up from 47% in 2020, the country is now facing increased power demand, with solutions already in place to meet the growing demand.

A new mineral royalty policy announced earlier this year is being utilised, as the country considers more than doubling spending in 2023 to help revive the economy. The royalty policy that came into effect in October compelled miners to pay royalties as follows – half in mineral form, 40% in local currency and 10% in foreign-currency cash.

The government has made some significant strides in taking back the reins of the economy and looks set for another stable economy next year, ceteris paribus. However, to ensure this long-fought stability, government has to focus on three key metrics.

Investor confidence

After probably the longest foreign investor drought, the new dispensation has worked over- time to win back the confidence of both external and domestic capital, since coming to power in 2017.

Billions of dollars, primarily from big-ticket investments in mining, power generation and an assortment of infrastructure projects have been flowing into the country. One of these is the Greenfield US$1 billion Chinese-led steel venture in Mvuma, the US$1,3 billion thermal power project in Hwange, and huge road and airport re-development programmes around the country as well as Invictus’s gas exploration in the north of the country.

The Second Republic has not unlocked even 1% of the potential FDI Zim could receive and that is because the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra doesn’t leverage tax incentives to nurture and underpin investor love and confidence.

Government should look to reducing general corporate income tax, implementing tax holidays and tax-privileged zones. Governments may also choose to offset the investment cost of the FDI by providing subsidies, or paying for some of the expenses of the project. Opponents of this practice claim it takes money from taxpayers and gives it to foreign entities.

This is true in the short term, but the investment is also intended to boost the economy (local and national). Land can also be used as a subsidy, either through reduced prices or by giving it away for free. However, if large tracts of land are going to be subsidized, then why not set up a special economic zone?

Ensuring stable exchange rates

Of equal concern should be maintaining stable exchange rates to anchor the government’s short-term economic stabilisation, lay a strong foundation for medium to long-term growth, and ultimately foster the public’s confidence in the local unit.

The local unit on the exchange parallel market has seen some slight depreciation, while the interbank rate has been somewhat steady over the past month or so.

Ensuring a stable exchange rate will be anchored on the government’s ability to keep liquidity out of the parallel market. The gold coins have played a vital part in moving that liquidity back to the RBZ.

The 40% tax on short-term investments on the ZSE also got rid of arbitrage that was being exploited with returns being dumped back into the parallel market.

However, ultimately, the suspension of payments to contractors had probably the most significant impact on the exchange rate, so it will be interesting how the resumption of these payments affects the market, particularly because the issue of forex shortages has not been addressed.

Keep inflation in check

The other measure, still being rolled out, is the introduction of gold coins. These have sucked out billions of dollars from the market which could have otherwise ended up on the black currency market, thereby driving up inflation.

And as long as the RBZ is able to settle all gold contracts without a hassle, that should see market players taking a keener interest in the new saving instrument. Gold coins valued at ZW$9,5 billion were sold as of September 30, 2022. Smaller denomination gold coins have been unveiled by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to broaden access and inclusivity and half of the released coins were bought within the first week.

Gwenzi is a financial analyst and MD of Equity Axis, a financial media firm offering business intelligence, economic and equity research. — respect@equityaxis.net

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