Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa arrived in Bulawayo yesterday where he is scheduled to officially open the 59th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) today.
The President, accompanied by First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa, landed at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport just before 11am.
He was welcomed by Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired), Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister Angeline Masuku, Home Affairs and Culture Minister Dr Obert Mpofu, Midlands Provincial Affairs Minister Owen Ncube, Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial chairperson Dr Callistus Ndlovu, senior government and Zanu PF officials and service chiefs.
After his arrival, President Mnangagwa had a brief interaction with thousands of Zanu-PF supporters who had thronged the airport to welcome him.
This is the first time President Mnangagwa officiates at the ZITF as the Head of State following the resignation of former President Mr Robert Mugabe last year.
Running under the theme: “Sustainable Industrial Development – Inclusive, Competitive, and Collaborative,” the international expo kicked off on Tuesday with a packed business programme of top-level engagement in what organisers described as the “biggest” international trade showcase in decades.
ZITF Company chairperson Mrs Ruth Ncube said this year’s theme buttresses the new Government’s resolve to pursue industrialisation as the cornerstone of national economic growth and development.
International focus is on Zimbabwe this week as the country, under the new political dispensation ushered in about five months ago, moves to showcase trade and investment opportunities available.
A total of 18 countries are being represented this year, including the United Arab Emirates, a first timer. Local participation has also increased. Up to 500 direct exhibitors are participating, about 40 percent higher than last year’s closing total of 356 direct exhibitors, and 30 percent higher than the booking situation at the same time last year.
The multi-sectoral exhibition features companies involved in manufacturing, mining, aviation, transport, education, food, clothing and textiles, packaging, agriculture, tourism, event management and cultural exchange programme among other sectors.
Exhibition space this year surpassed the 100 percent mark, and additional space has been availed to cater for more public and private sector participation.
The ZITF has also recorded an increase in the number of new local exhibitors with 25 percent of booked participants coming in for the first time as a confirmation of renewed economic confidence. The positive trend is indicative of an improved trading environment and renewed impetus to compete on the global market.