The Challenges of Democratization and Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe

June 24, 2015
10:00 am - 12:00 pm

1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800, Washington, D.C. 20004 


Ambassador Bruce Wharton, United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe

Ibbo Mandaza, Executive Chairperson, SAPES Trust

Shingi Munyeza, Chairman of VInal Investments

moderated by

Imani Countess, Regional Director for Africa, Solidarity Center

with introductory remarks by

Dave Peterson, Senior Director for Africa, National Endowment for Democracy

About the Event

Nearly two years after the new constitution was signed into law, Zimbabwe’s democratic progress remains stalled and the economy is again in crisis. In a panel discussion, experts on Zimbabwe identify the challenges that must be overcome in order to reverse Zimbabwe’s current trajectory as well as explore opportunities for local and international actors to encourage political reform and economic recovery.

Read Voice of America’s article about the event here.

About the Speakers

Ambassador David Bruce Wharton presented his credentials as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Zimbabwe on November 15, 2012. Until his nomination by President Obama in May 2012, Ambassador Wharton, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of African Affairs at the Department of State. Prior to that, he worked in the Bureau of African Affairs as Director of the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, following a two-year assignment as Deputy Coordinator of the Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs. From 2006-07, he served in the Department’s Bureau of Human Resources and from 2003-06, he was Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala. Ambassador Wharton’s diplomatic career includes other overseas assignments in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. He received a B.A. from the University of Texas in Austin.

Ibbo Mandaza is the executive director Southern African Political Economy Series (SAPES) Trust and the group publisher and editor of the Southern African Political Economic Monthly (SAPEM). Previously he was the executive director of the Southern Africa Research Institute for Policy Studies (SARIPS), a leading policy and training institution for the Southern Africa sub-region. He is the chairman of the Rainbow Group of Companies. Dr. Mandaza studied at the University of York where he obtained his Doctorate in Politics. He subsequently served as a Permanent Secretary in the Zimbabwean government before setting up the SARIPS. He has researched and written extensively on issues of governance, international relations, and public policy; and was one of the first senior African Civil Servants in post-independence Zimbabwe (1980-1990). He is a member of the Constitutional Commission of Zimbabwe.

Dr. Shingi Munyeza is an accountant by training, a marketer by passion and a hotelier by calling, he was the Group Chief Executive of African Sun Limited, a pan-African hotel group, from 2002 until 2015, when he stepped down to pursue personal interests in franchising and telecoms. He is the Master Franchisee for the following franchises in Zimbabwe: Ocean Basket, Mugg & Bean, Smooch Frozen Yoghurt, Newscafe and Simply Asia. He was awarded the most influential entrepreneur since independence in 2013 by Embretec Zimbabwe. He is a recipient of the prestigious “Industry Mover and Shaker” award by the Hospitality Investment Conference Africa (HICA) in 2010 for his outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry across the African continent.

Imani Countess is the director of the Africa Program at the Solidarity Center – American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Ms. Countess is a veteran of the U.S.-based Africa advocacy community. A respected political strategist and analyst, she frequently makes presentations regarding U.S.-policy toward Africa, including congressional and expert witness testimony. She has extensive knowledge of African politics, particularly Southern Africa. Previously, Ms. Countess held various positions including with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the TransAfrica Forum where she provided oversight and implementation of democracy strengthening programs, and advised, conceptualized and implemented programs in Zimbabwe.

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