Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter—
French Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Richard Boidin has described as unfair the negative portrayal of Zimbabwe by Western media, saying reality on the ground did not match images conveyed abroad. Ambassador Boidin said this in an interview yesterday after paying a courtesy call on Senate President Cde Edna Madzongwe at Parliament Building, together with a delegation from the French Parliament’s chapter of the Zimbabwe-France Parliamentary Friendship Association.
“What I said inside (to Cde Madzongwe) is that we have to consider all the realities of Zimbabwe and not only the negative,” he said.
“The reality of Zimbabwe is very different from what you have when you are outside. For example, the two members of the association have been here since yesterday and what they have seen here they have not seen in the media outside.
“It is not fair to have a negative image only. Of course, there are problems, but there are also problems in France,” he said.
During the meeting, Ambassador Boidin said the two associations had agreed to work together to correct the anomalies, among other initiatives to boost cooperation. “The realities of Zimbabwe are so different with what they say in the media, which is why the presidents of the two groups have agreed to work together,” he said.
Cde Madzongwe appealed to the French delegation to portray the true Zimbabwean story to their European counterparts.
“You are going to experience what is happening in Zimbabwe first hand instead of the media and because of that you will go and relay the true Zimbabwe story to the French people and the French parliament,” she said.
“We had good relations before and they deteriorated a bit and we hope you will, through your visit be able to assist in re-establishing them.”
In an earlier meeting, Speaker of the National Assembly Advocate Jacob Mudenda encouraged the French delegation to promote Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination.
“We have a vibrant Constitution which protects property rights and, therefore, the French businessmen and women must not fear for their property rights because these are protected by the law,” he said.
“We are also revamping our laws to improve the investment climate and we now have a law on Special Economic Zones that offer attractive opportunities in tourism, mining and agro-industries.”
President of the French chapter of the Association, Mr Guilleme Chevrollier, said they would facilitate more French investors to come to Zimbabwe. “As legislators, we are trying to open doors for French investment and we see there are already 30 French companies here and we will facilitate more to come,” he said.
His Zimbabwean counterpart and Rushinga legislator Cde Wonder Mashange said the visit showed that the French were committed to improving relations with Zimbabwe.
“With their visit it shows that France is committed to mend relations with Zimbabwe with the initiative starting from Parliament,” he said. “We hope this visit will improve political relations and that they will relay a good message and not rely on distorted media reports.”
The other members of the French delegation included Mr Rene Rouquet, who is a legislator and Mrs Pascale Lauze, a senior administrator with the National Assembly of France.