PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is confident that Bulawayo will host a flawless Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) this week.
In his weekly column in The Sunday Mail, the President clearly had his focus trained on the city.
He hailed Bulawayo for hosting the country’s 42nd Independence Day on Monday last week and is hopeful that the ZITF, the largest trade and investment exposition in the country, will be smooth as well. He added that the city’s water crisis will end soon adding that its industry is coming back to life.
“Everything proceeded like clockwork, with not a single glitch,” he said, referring to the Independence Day event he led in the city.
“Thank you, Bulawayo Province and City, for rising to the occasion, and for being such a gracious and nationally-conscious host!”
He said Bulawayo is playing an important role, through hosting ZITF, in consolidating the national engagement agenda.
“Amid the joyous Independence festivities, I detected undercurrents of some dignified hustle and bustle in the City of Kings and Queens,” he wrote.
“It was then I remembered that barely a week apart, Bulawayo was set to host a key international event, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, ZITF.
It takes a Province and City of real capacity to handle such key events in such close succession.
As I write, the ZITF grounds are abuzz as Bulawayo prepares for this premier event. The Province and City will again host our Nation. This warm and personable City will also honour (Kenya) President Kenyatta by renaming a road in his honour. I heartily thank Bulawayo Province and City for playing a key role in actualising and furthering our policy of engagement and re-engagement.”
At the weekend and yesterday exhibitors were finishing up work on their stands and exhibits ahead of the opening of the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre today.
The five-day show will run under the theme “Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development.”
According to an update of the event released last week, a total of 514 direct exhibitors had booked space and 71 will be exhibiting for the first time.
A total of 14 foreign nations — Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Belarus, Britain, Indonesia and Japan — are participating.
The President said the Government is working hard to resolve Bulawayo’s water crisis.
“The water challenges which dogged it from its inception as a sprawling town and city, will be resolved soon.
Government is chasing a very tight timeline to ensure Bulawayo’s thirst is permanently slacked by the end of this year. Lake Gwayi-Shangani is on course to completion. Work on the over 270-kilometre pipeline which is set to deliver abundant water to Bulawayo City, has begun. Once done, the pipeline will green several agricultural projects along the way,” he said.
A number of industries, among them the Cold Storage Company and the National Railways of Zimbabwe, he said, are working their way up after years of challenges.
“They have now reopened, presaging the return of industrial confidence through which we reassert our pole position as a manufacturing nation, north of the Limpopo.
I am happy that the Cold Storage Company, CSC, is slowly but surely being rebuilt. It is a key enterprise which drives Bulawayo’s overall recovery. A buoyant CSC must lead in re-establishing our status as a global supplier of quality, tasty beef. Markets for Zimbabwean beef are abundant and insatiable,” he said.
On the NRZ, the President said the utility’s recovery prospects look solid after a few false starts in recent years.
“I am happy that the roadmap for the recovery of NRZ is now clearer. A partner has now been secured. As with the rest of the country, Bulawayo needs an efficient railway system to integrate our economy and to connect us to key ports for inbound and outbound economic activities,” he said.
He sees the city benefitting from other projects underway in its hinterland.
“With the pace at which both Hwange and Victoria Falls are growing, as well as the grand vision for tourism we have along the Binga-Kanyemba stretch of the Zambezi River, these aerodromes are going to be rehabilitated,” he said.
“Again, Bulawayo is the biggest beneficiary. The power line connecting Hwange 7 and 8 to the main Station at Insukamini is near completion.
Before year-end, the first Unit — Hwange 7 — will come on line, thus boosting our national power supply. Aged Thermal Units in Bulawayo are set to be revamped and upgraded, thanks to a loan Government secured from India. With secure water and power supply, Bulawayo can now unleash its energies, thus reinstating its coveted status as our country’s industrial hub.”