Sneak Peek: Winstone Antonio
FOUNDER and former president of the international beauty pageant, Miss Heritage, Taremeredzwa Munzara said he has decided to take a back seat and empower new blood, while he ventures into the territory of branding and marketing.
Munzara had over the years managed to establish a strong brand in the pageantry both locally and internationally.
A lot transpired during his active involvement in the pageantry, with probably the worst to happen in his career being the arrest in Malaysia on allegations of human trafficking, an allegation he vehemently dismissed.
In his latest endeavour, Munzara, as the chief executive officer of Destination Marketing International is helping governments, including Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Kenya with national branding, destination marketing and investment marketing solutions.
NewsDay (ND) Life & Style reporter Winstone Antonio caught up with Munzara (TM) and below are excerpts from the interview.
ND: After years of being involved in pageantry where you succeeded in establishing a vibrant brand, why have you decided to quit?
TM: I did not quit. I cannot shut down the company, as it is years of work that no one in Africa has ever done. I still own modelling ventures, but I am no longer involved due to new responsibilities. I have just assigned new blood and leadership to run the modelling business. My interests are no longer aligned to that as I have evolved to serve my country at a higher level. My calling is now greater than what I have done prior. The international pageantry was part of the road, but not the destination. It is time for others to do even better than I did. A new era has begun and I must sit on its throne and reign.
ND: With your vast experience in pageantry, how best can you describe the transition?
TM: Well, I have always been in nation marketing, but was using international pageantry as the tool, so the transition was not difficult. The only difference is that I now use more tools and have established a corporate arsenal that specialises in marketing nations. There are a lot of new things that I had to learn. Nation marketing is complex and sophisticated. I am dealing with the fate of a country’s brand and the responsibility is of a magnitude that gives sleepless nights, but rewarding attributes. It is all about real global reach, statistics and figures because we market for a return on investment. Dealing with a brand that consists people, elements and events that you cannot control is a mammoth task, but it makes you mature.
ND: You are among the people passionate about pushing brand Zimbabwe through arts and culture, what challenges have you faced in your endeavours?
TM: I think promoting Zimbabwe should be every citizen’s daily goal and government must start taking this seriously. Zimbabwe is the hardest brand to sell, as people have different feelings and emotions over it, and worse off the obscurity that surrounds the brand.
The arts and entertainment are just a tool, as the concept of nation branding and marketing is new to Zimbabwe. Our own people do not believe in our own country, which is the biggest challenge as compared to the Americans that are patriotic and keep talking about how America is the best and the greatest country on earth. Words have prophetic implications and our own people must start to change the culture of bad mouthing, but be proactive and change the trajectory of this country. You see, America is run like a business enterprise and it places a budget for advertising using different tools. Zimbabwe thinks that attending a conference is marketing, but it is just presence.
ND: How effectively can it be done to place Zimbabwe on the global market?
TM: Growing up in Zimbabwe is quite a culture shock, as we were all branded by the culture of the United Kingdom and the United States. Everyone had a London, I love New York or I love Paris T-Shirt. We consumed American everyday and we still do through entertainment and using their products and services.
A lot of people think America is in the business of movies and music videos, but that is not the case. It is in the business of country branding through arts, culture and entertainment. America has been programming us for decades to buy into its products and its services and so we have been consuming America daily, while America cashes in on that. We keep on making America and other countries richer and more popular; but who is consuming Zimbabwe?
ND: Has government done enough to create a favourable environment for the promotion of the country through arts and culture
TM: Our government is going through restructuring, as it is exploring the idea of nation marketing through arts and culture. I have sat in high delegation meetings with the mayor, the Office of the President and Cabinet and other ministries discussing this, and government is keen on us assisting to accomplish this. I believe that we are still at infancy stage, but as we are at such a stage, government must apply its mind on educating the public about what this is and what it can do for development. I love marketing Zimbabwe and I want us to become the greatest country on earth. We are great, but we must believe and apply our minds.
To improve the situation, we have to create concepts that have a global appeal and reach, shape the values and identity of Zimbabwe that can be exported to the global community in exchange for commercial value, so that we make money for Zimbabwe.
We must become world-class and world-class is not replicating America or Jamaica, because America will not buy into a copycat, but an authentic product. We must learn to work in teams, because teamwork is what built all great nations. We keep creating nightmares because we are not working together. If we merge our strengths, we become a better Zimbabwe. Also our corporate and government departments must place marketing Zimbabwe as part of their sponsorship agenda. The resources are key to creating quality that can be bought by the global community.
ND: You were once involved in a human trafficking scandal, but later acquitted. Did this affect your spirit?
TM: That case was the worst ever encountered, and on record I was never on trial. I was cleared. It is the best thing that ever happened to me because it brought me back to Zimbabwe to serve my country. I run the only nation-marketing company in Zimbabwe. That woman who lied to the world, I would love to take her out for dinner to say thank you, because she elevated me when she thought she was burying me alive; only allowing me to evolve. My spirit suffered and my image in public circles as well, but I had global support as people supported me and I am grateful to everyone. No one must go through that, because rising from that requires a true gladiator.
ND: Your parting shot?
TM: Zimbabwe needs repairing and preparing for global dominance. We need citizens that live in the future and not those sucked up by the current. Tomorrow, we can be on top, but today counts as a preparatory stage. Think global dominance for Zimbabwe.