Florence Zano Chideya, Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada;  Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa

Florence’s conscious-contribution™ starts with a love for her country, as an entrepreneur and diplomat.

Words of Wisdom: Celebrate other women. Look for what is good in our loving man. Embrace all the genders; Women by themselves cannot achieve everything they want. We need men to achieve our objectives. “At some point, you need to stop think of yourself as a ‘woman’ this is how you arrived, but your sex seizes to be important… your brain becomes all that is important.”

Philosophies – Politics once a responsibility, now an opportunity

What you will learn:
1. Why be active in politics?
2. Women’s role in Zimbabwe politics
3. What you need to do to get your voice heard in politics

Expertise – Collectively making a difference

What you will learn:
1. Working with other African countries
2. Addressing preconceived ideas of Zimbabwe
3. Africa – a place of opportunity

Conscious Contribution™ – Being a civil servant

Learn what it takes to contribute as an Ambassador

Leadership Lessons

What you will learn:
1. Leadership advice
2. Leadership legacy
3. Words of Wisdom for African women… not to be missed. :

Complete Interview

Complete interview … Philosophies, Expertise, Conscious Contribution™ and Leadership Lessons.

Florence Zano Chideya, Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada; Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa

Florence Zano Chideya is the Managing Director and Owner, African Adventures, a travel/tourism venture. Although a successful entrepreneur she pursued a life in politics which has lead her to to a Twenty years of public service inclusive of Health, Industry & Commerce, Tourism and Foreign Affairs.

She presently is the Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada. She has recently (Spring 2014), become the most Senior diplomat (Dean) in Ottawa. This is the first for a lady and for Zimbabwe in Canada. One of the toughest challenge as Dean is being able to balance the work of a Dean’s office and that being an Ambassador to Zimbabwe.

A little bit of history:

Member of the National Arts Council Board

2005 Appointed to the Anti Corruption Commission

September, 2005 appointed 6th Ambassador to Canada:

Civil servant : Twenty years of public service inclusive of Health, Industry & Commerce, Tourism and Foreign Affairs

2011 to date: Assumed Deanship for the African diplomatic corps

Currently: Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa

Author: Echoes of Favour, Ambassador Ngoni Togarepi chideya, Educationist, Dipolomat

Florence Zano Chideya, her conscious-contribution™ starts with a love for her country, Zimbabwe. Florence is Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada;  Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa


You have been a civil servant for 20 years, but before you started you also had a long career. You were a practicing nurse; you own a Tour Company – although that has taken a back seat to you being an Ambassador.

What was the catalyst for getting into politics in the first place… especially coming from an entrepreneurial background?

It really starts with the history of my country and in South Africa because there was apartheid. At that time, the only fields that were available were teaching or nursing. So for you to have any other career, this is what you had to start in – teaching or nursing.

Over and above that, if you had your ambitions, nothing could stop you. That is how I started undertaking a degree in Business Management, post-graduate diploma in public policy and public administration. That is how I ended up scanning the various administrates in my country– over 20 years. I was involved in Transport, Foreign Affairs and now we are in the Zimbabwe Ambassador role to Canada.

I appreciate your comment about nursing and teaching, as many of the women I have interviewed in various countries also mentioned that was their two options.

You mention your ambitions, when did you have them in the political arena?

Coming from my country like Zimbabwe, you couldn’t help but want to be involved. One found themselves involved and being interested in politics at some level. It happened for me in my under-grad studies. When children were young there was only so much you can do. When we grew-up I could get more involved.

Your husband was involved in politics and was in the Chair you occupy today. I would imagine there are not a lot of husbands and wives that occupy the same political position. How did you meet your husband?

I met him when we were students in New York. When we were finished University education we moved home. We had finished our education so I was ready to cross over to the commerce element of career. Slowly I made the transition into the broader aspect.

As the Ambassador, and therefore leader, what would be one of your biggest challenges personally or professionally in this role?

As Ambassador it is such a big honour to represent my country. You direct activities of your county in a foreign country, which in itself is a challenge. What you are trying to do is bring two countries together. You have one primary responsibility and your accountable to the country you represent. Our goal is to diminish the lack of knowledge we have about each other’s country. We are trying to lift up the relationships.

If I’m from Zimbabwe, and I want to do business in Canada, can you tell me three things that I really need to know culturally to do business in Canada?

It depends on what type of business you want to be involved in. For example if you have business dealing in food, the requirements are very different then if you are sending chemical or hardware. You would have sector specific.

In International business there are similar regulations, such as tariffs and customs. We each have those. There is also the law of reciprocity especially in diplomacy. What ever Zimbabwe does to Canada, Canada does to Zimbabwe. It may not be the same way we deal with any other European country. All the relationships are different and that is why it bilateral.

I was thinking of the question more from the perspective of regulations. There are many regulations to get into the Canadian market. I believe there are more regulations in Canada than we would have in Zimbabwe.

I recall the CCAfrica conference where we met; the question to Canadian Trade representative was “Why is it so much more difficult in Canada to trade then it is in many of our African countries?”


What are some of the challenges for women to get into politics in Zimbabwe?

When you look at politics it is like a ‘go-getter’ environment. Our socialization is such that the ‘go-getter’ attitude is being encouraged. We are use to community development; we ‘come up together’. When you come up to tertiary levels there are not as many women as men, and politics emulates this lack of women. Even though women contribute a lot, however, when it comes to voting for women, our society still needs to improve.

You mentioned voting for women, so it is not only having the confidence for women to step-up, but perhaps the bigger issue is voting for women to lead?

This is true. I do think women need to encourage each other. We need to celebrate women. Notice the potential in women. What someone may need is just a little bit of an edge and they can contribute a lot more.

How many women are in politics in Zimbabwe?

We just had election in July 2013. We have a new constituent, a new parliament. This is our eighth parliament. This is the highest level of women right now in politics. We were aiming for 50/50. But I think we managed to get 40% in politics. Before the election it was less then half that.

For more information on women representation in Zimbabwe: Read: Zimbabwean Women Protest Low Number of Cabinet Slots

What do you attribute the huge jump in women participation?

The gender barometer was recommending 50/50, The African Union was recommending 30%. We have been striving for 50%. In our constitution for the next 10 years we have a provision for affirmative seats and after that it will fall way.

While in Ottawa I was able to speak to the Moroccan Ambassador. In both your countries, Morocco and Zimbabwe, are promoting 50% representation in politics. Although for years countries have been striving for 30% as that seemed unreachable at one point in time. To see African countries saying we need more women in politics leading is such a huge message to the rest of the world.

We have more to do to achieve the Millennium Development goals for poverty elevation. It is not going to happen unless we engage women, along with men of course, but we need to push more women.

What is your advice for someone who wants to be an Ambassador, what do they need to do?

First — start, lobby, participate and show interest.

At one time I would have thought people would just see that I’m good at what I do, that time has passed. You must show that you are good, that you have what it takes, that you have something to offer.

It sounds like what you are saying is don’t only show it, but also make sure people know it.

If you just go do what everyone else is doing, that may not achieve results. You have to have your own strategies. That may not mean going to the rallies, but actually designing your own information sheet and getting support of people sharing that information i.e. putting information under people’s doors. We now have ecommerce, social media… these are tools we have now available to us to compete.

In Zimbabwe, do the citizens have access to all these tools? Are they blocked in any capacity?

Yes they do have access to all the tools.

Do you find the Zimbabwe youth of today as passionate now as your generation was?

Yes they are. We are a country in transition. It is a young country and we have only been independent for 34 years. Youth are going through their phases: get a job; feed my children … the youth of today have the advantage of access to the Internet and social media. They are able to participate and to express themselves. They have the energy.

Have you ever seen certain characteristics that women have that can been used for them or against them in the political arena?

Politics is very much about survival of the fittest, so it doesn’t matter who are. We have women who are surviving in this environment. Even in Canada there are five Premiers, which I think is a record.

You have to have a tough stomach and develop Leadership skills. If you are a leader you will always see opportunity. If you are a leader you see what is possible.



When you got into politics did you have any preconceived ideas what that would look like?

I felt my environment was restrictive. I wanted to contribute and say something. At the time I think most people were interested in doing that. I remember when I was a student we were being asked from North America the issues in our country. I remember going to a studio and explaining the issues. I was very young. I was intimidated. Zimbabwe was one of the last two countries on the African continent to be independent. It was wave and you went with it.

We fought for independents, and were speaking with the Europeans, especially Britain. There were people everywhere.

So what was one of the preconceived ideas of your role, which was incorrect?

I didn’t have one. As a public servant, you can appreciate the role you are put into.

If you understand tourism and trade you can link it with the job.

Your trade experience would be very advantageous, but it would appear that your tourism role also adds a lot of value in this role.


What do you think has been your most significant impact you have had in your career?

As a Dean of the African Diplomatic Core. We have really made some inroads in terms of visibility of Africa in Canada. My colleagues and myself have been able to bring Africa more forefront to Canada.

I have seen that just by reading Canadian newspapers. We seem to see more about Africa. As Westerns we see a lot of the ‘bad stuff’ that happens in Africa, that is why it is so rewarding to report all the ‘ good stuff’ through Wisdom Exchange TV.

Do you find it challenging in your role when speaking to companies in Canada that they have these preconceived ideas of Zimbabwe’s progression?

How do you deal with that and make people aware what is going right in Zimbabwe?

It has been a big challenge, for all of Africa particularly in Zimbabwe. That is our job to dose the fires. We provide information as much as we can. I have gone to Zimbabwe with various Canadian groups and just that alone allows someone to speak about Zimbabwe, not necessarily myself. It takes a lot to educate on what countries lack. It is not a role that someone can take credit for by himself or herself. It is a very complicated role and it is not an overnight miracle either. It takes years to change people’s perceptions.

People are often too quick to have information without checking. We have to let people know things are not always as they have been reported. Someone has already reported something false and it is difficult to change minds as a result. This is our job, to change perceptions.

There are 54 countries with such diversity in each country. With such a population close to a billion there are many challenges.


We started Wisdom Exchange TV to demonstrate that Africa is a place to invest in and women are the best investment. Women are making change. The most interesting thing we found after 65 interviews is that we were right. One woman will impact 1,000’s of people.

I do agree that when women make money it goes to families, and children.

When you started down this journey, what was the one thing you wanted to achieve?

I want to build business between Canada and Zimbabwe.

What was the motivation to enter in civil services?

I wanted to serve industry as a civil servant.

If you could attribute your success to one thing, what would it attribute it to?

My inclusive nature. The ability to work with everyone. I’m able to relate.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Working with the public.

What would be the most challenging aspect or your career?

Trying to make people understand that my country is a good investment. People are good people and welcome foreigners and live well amongst themselves.

I felt very welcomed when I was in Zimbabwe.

What was something that happened to you or for you that helped you achieve your career accomplishments?

I think meeting the right people that were on the same wavelength. Many of the Canadian businesses were probably also researching Zimbabwe. I took two different business groups to Zimbabwe, people in minerals and tour operators; we were able to agree easily on how to work together.

What was the most significant decision you made in your career?

To agree to be come an Ambassador to Canada. I had already lived in Canada when my husband was Ambassador and now he is retired. We had settle in Zimbabwe again.

So it sounds like your biggest achievement of as the Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa would not have been achieved if you actually did not decided to come back to Canada?

Yes, I guess that is right.


Edgeness Insight (An enhanced version of yourself discovered when you push the edge of your comfort zone). What is something that you are uncomfortable doing, but you need to continue to do, in order to make you as successful as you are?

Not sure.


What were the biggest obstacles to becoming a diplomat?

I didn’t have any.

What does success mean to you?

Inner joy that I’m able to carry on my mandate. Year over year I’m able to meet the mandate.

How do you define leadership?

Someone who gets the results that they set out to achieve. They work around obstacles. You don’t take no for answer. You don’t have luxury to do tomorrow what has to be done today.

What pieces of leadership advice would provide to others who are leading a team or project?

  1. Implement strategies and time lines
  2. Collaborate and delegate
  3. Consensus building
  4. Consult with others all time

What do you want your leadership legacy to be?

People need to be able to recognize that it is your mark on a particular project. I would like people to recognize my involvement by recognizing that I harnessed all people’s opinions. I work together well with everyone. You will have problems but you revisit them and work on achieving consensus.

If there were one thing you would do differently in pursuit of your success, what would it be?

Not sure. We have yielded results.

If there were one thing you have never done, but would like to do, what would it be?

Bungee jumping. … No white water rafting is probably more doable for me.


Reflective Realizations

Q. What advice would you give to your 10yr. old daughter?

You have to go get what you want. I wouldn’t wait affirmative action. You must not wait for people to do things for you. You must be independent and earn your own keep. You must be a good mother. There is nothing to be afraid of. Start now looking for opportunities.

Q. What advice do you wish you received at 10yrs old?

The world is jungle out there. I don’t know what I would have done about that information. When I was ten, we were very protected. We didn’t know much out there.

Words of Wisdom: Celebrate other women. Look for what is good in our loving man. Embrace all the genders; Women by themselves cannot achieve everything they want. We need men to achieve our objectives. “At some point, you need to stop think of yourself as a ‘woman’ this is how you arrived, but your sex seizes to be important… your brain becomes all that is important.”

Note: The key messages in the interview have been transcribed and slightly altered for legibility and succinctness. More information is provided in the audio and video version www.wisdomexchangetv.com. We welcome comments on the Wisdom Exchange TV website.

Note: The transcript is generally laid out according to the video segments.






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    1 Response to "Florence Zano Chideya"

    • When I was interviewing Florence Zano Chideya, Ambassador of Zimbabwe in Canada; Deputy Dean: Diplomatic corps in Ottawa, she made a profound statement at the end of the, unfortunately off camera, but it stuck with me. She said: “Equality will exist when we no longer feel the need to use an adjective in front of a noun.” Click the title to read the blog she helped inspire […]

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