HARARE – Italian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Stefano Moscatelli’s (SM) four-year term in the country ends this month.
His service has been characterised by the active promotion of cooperation and understanding between Zimbabwe and Italy through initiatives in the business, cultural and health sectors.
The Daily News (DN) met the outgoing ambassador for a wide ranging interview; excerpts below:
DN: Ambassador Moscatelli, thank you for taking time to speak with Daily News readers.
You are leaving Zimbabwe soon as your term of service here has come to an end, could you give us an overview of the Zimbabwe-Italy relations?
SM: relations between the people of Italy and Zimbabwe are characterised by understanding, goodwill and cooperation.
The significant presence of the Italian people in Zimbabwe dates back to the Second World War when thousands of Italian soldiers were held here as prisoners of war.
At the end of the war, many of the former prisoners decided to stay in the country and they then brought their families from Italy.
A few years after the end of the war also saw the construction of the Kariba Dam by an Italian company.
Coming to the present situation, being part of the European Union, Italy is actively involved in the political dialogue and re-engagement process taking place between the international community and the Government of Zimbabwe.
DN: What is your assessment of the economic environment in Zimbabwe?
SM: Zimbabwe has a huge potential for economic growth that can be driven by its human and natural resources.
We believe that a clearer regulatory framework and better guarantees for foreign investors would stimulate increased capital inflows that can drive industrial growth and technology transfer.
DN: Are there any Italian companies operating in Zimbabwe?
SM: Over the years, some important Italian companies operating in the fields of construction, energy production, mining, agricultural machinery and motoring have established and maintained their presence in Zimbabwe.
DN: We have noticed that your embassy is active in the area of trade promotion, tell us more about that.
SM: For the past four years we have consistently hosted an official stand at ZITF to facilitate stronger trade relations between Zimbabwe and our country and to promote the Made in Italy brand, which is known internationally for quality engineering and technology.
This year our stand at ZITF won a prize for second best foreign stand at the exhibition.
In order to deepen the business, bilateral and cultural relations between our two countries we have also taken part in all the major business fairs in Zimbabwe, including the Harare Agricultural Show and the Sanganai/Hlanganani — World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair.
DN: In the past few years, how active has the government and people of Italy in development cooperation and assisting Zimbabwe in areas of health and social welfare?
SM: Italy has a strong commitment to the people of Zimbabwe and our strategy to help alleviate current challenges is based on a mix of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
On the bilateral level, we have NGOs that are highly active in developing social protection programmes and interventions in the food, health and environmental sectors with a particular focus on the rural population.
Recently, the Italian provincial administration of Trento, through an Italian charity and in partnership with Zimbabwe’s ministry of Health and Child Care, donated equipment and medication for the early screening and treatment of carcinoma of the cervix.
The programme is expected to benefit over three million rural women in Mashonaland West and Harare provinces.
On the multilateral front, Italy is the third largest contributor to the EU budget and one of the major supporters of the United Nations’ budget; contributing to numerous development and aid programmes carried by the agencies of both the international organisations that are based in Zimbabwe.
We have been on the forefront in our commitment to improving global health through fighting against infectious diseases and immunisation and Italy is a major donor supporting innovative sources of funding such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines Immunisation (GAVI) and the Advance Market Commitment that promote research and subsidise the future purchase of new types of vaccines.
Zimbabwe is a beneficiary of this funding and it is the 18th country globally to roll out the pneumococcal vaccine under the GAVI and AMC programme.
DN: We have noticed that your embassy is very active in the culture sector, what are your objectives for this sector in Zimbabwe?
SM: We have developed a robust culture exchange program that is designed to facilitate stronger bilateral relations between our two countries.
Our programme is designed to promote the freedom of creative expression and cultural diversity.
The embassy’s involvement in initiatives that include establishing the October World Music Festival and also taking part in Hifa is in line with these key objectives.
Our culture exchange programme places a great emphasis on artistic interaction and cross fertilisation of creative ideas.
The key results of this growing programme include Dudu Manhenga’s performances in Italy and the Zimbo-Ita project, in which Blessing Chimanga has partnered Italian musicians Max Covini and Matteo Boldini in a music collaboration that has extensively toured both Italy and Zimbabwe in the past two years.
DN: Any last comments?
SM: Zimbabwe is a very beautiful country with a lot of potential to grow in the different sectors.
I have enjoyed my stay here and will definitely continue to facilitate the strengthening of our relations when I go back to Rome.
I truly enjoyed my service here.
DN: Ambassador, thank you for your time we wish you well as you pursue your career in future.