Kudzanai Sharara in DAVOS, Switzerland
The nature of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is not for speechifying but interactive dialogue, conversations and discussions in workshops and strategy sessions, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Stuart Comberbach, has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the much-publicised WEF underway, Ambassador Comberbach said forum organisers do not expect participants to read prepared texts or deliver statements.
In fact, they “actively discourage” prepared speeches, he said.
This means the WEF, which is attended by world leaders in politics, business and civil society, is far from being a talk show, making it a very important platform for Zimbabwe to take part in as it seeks to grow its economy to an upper middle income economy by 2030.
Instead of delivering and listening to speeches, the Zimbabwe delegation will be able to engage and re-engage as it aims to boost trade and attract investments into the country.
“What they want is active dialogue, conversations, discussions around tables in workshops and in strategy sessions.
“The whole idea is to really provoke politicians, business people, academics, media to talk very openly and very honestly about the challenges which face our modern world and what the world should do to address those challenges, Ambassador Comberbach said.
He explained that the original 2022 WEF is supposed to focus on the impact of climate change and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and polarisation which have appeared across the world.
This is at a time the wealthy, the developed, the rich countries are looking after themselves making promises to smaller developing and poor countries and not delivering on those promises.
Turning to President Mnangagwa and his delegation’s attendance to the WEF, Ambassador Comberbach said the continued invitation of Zimbabwe for the fourth time, though President Mnangagwa attended only two, is “already a very good sign and a very good indicator that Zimbabwe is a country that counts.
“It’s a country that is known and it’s a country that people are keeping their eyes on,” he said.
This year’s WEF would be attended by 2 500 participants, of which around 200 of them are public figures.
These are leading politicians, leading industrialists, CEOs, media personnel, leading figures from the world of academia, Ambassador Comberbach explained.
“Amongst those 200 there will be 50 heads of State and governments so our President is one of 50 or so heads of State who will be here in the next three or four days.”
Ambassador Comberbach said Zimbabwe has a good story to tell since the coming into government of the Second Republic led by President Mnangagwa.
And given that a lot of reforms have taken place, Ambassador Comberbach believes the way the international media “portrays our country is unfair”.
“It’s generally pretty negative and therefore, the President actually being here especially with a delegation of ministers that are with him, gives him a really good opportunity to convey a correct story and a more accurate picture about the positive developments that have been going on in Zimbabwe.
Accompanying the President is Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Ambassador Frederick Shava, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza as well as Deputy Chief Secretary – Presidential Communications, Mr George Charamba.
ZESA Holdings Executive Chairman, Dr Sydney Gata, is also part of the delegation.
President Mnangagwa is expected to explain, for example, how Zimbabwe managed relatively well to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the degree of food security that its developing, through programmes such as Pfumvudza/ Intwasa.
“So this is a story about “Zimbabwe that is not really known and being here and interacting with this level of political leadership and business leadership from around the world gives His Excellency and the delegation a chance to convey a different image of what’s going on in Zimbabwe.”
Ambassador Comberbach said a number of private sector meetings have been lined up for His Excellency.
“These are meetings with Swiss-based companies. One is already operating in Zimbabwe but two others have expressed interest in setting up shop in Zimbabwe.”