Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
NO case of Covid-19 was recorded from the tests done at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), which ended on a high note in Bulawayo yesterday.
Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, told journalists at the closing Press briefing that her ministry had assured President Mnangagwa that the show, which was suspended twice this year after having been cancelled last year, will be held under strict Covid-19 regulations.
“I want to begin by stating that we have had a successful ZITF week. There were some challenges as you all know because of Covid-19 and as a result it was cancelled twice.
“But I want to thank the President for allowing this to happen on the basis that we assured him that we will maintain the WHO Covid-19 prevention guidelines and the people who came here to attend were being sanitised, they were maintaining social distance and they were masking up. So, on that score I am pleased to say we complied,” said the minister.
The theme of ZITF 2021 was “Showcasing the New Normal for Business and Industry: Realities and Opportunities”.
Dr Nzenza said the country’s premier exhibition was part of the revival of Bulawayo industries.
Before the collapse of Bulawayo industries, Dr Nzenza noted that the city had some of the remarkable manufacturing firms.
“It was a hub of activity but something happened, but we are saying with the President’s vision and strategic direction, we’re witnessing change and one of the key issues or strategic mandate of my ministry is to focus on local production, utilising the natural resources that we have in this country and ensuring that there is quality and maintenance of standards,” she said.
“Ultimately, the aim is to create jobs and also that the products that are produced not only meet standards, but are safe and not harmful to the consumer.”
Dr Nzenza said the 61st edition of the ZITF showcased products that were manufactured in Zimbabwe and were now dominating shelf space in shops.
The participation in the fair was also representative of all economic sectors that include manufacturing, mining, tourism, education, ICT and agriculture.
This year’s exhibition attracted a total of eleven foreign nations among them; Botswana, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mauritius and South Africa, Indonesia and Namibia.
The minister said the bulk of the foreign participants were from Sadc countries while some of the countries that traditionally come to the annual trade showcase did not do so this year on account of the Covid-19 pandemic.
ZITF Company chairman, Mr Busisa Moyo, said they were excited that exhibitors at this year’s event embraced the new normal of doing business by ensuring safety and adherence to Covid-19 protocols.
“It’s quite pleasing that despite the economic challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic, the overall participation by companies was very impressive with both domestic and foreign exhibitors having stolen the show,” he said.
“I would want to commend all participants for their compliance with Covid-19 protocols and from the tests that were conducted not a single case has been reported. That is commendable.”
Mr Moyo said participation in the fair was fairly representative of all sectors of the economy. The trade fair attracted a total of 373 direct exhibitors and an additional 120 indirect exhibitors.
“So, it’s quite a commendable result given the circumstances that we find ourselves in. It took a lot of courage for industries and businesses to man these stands and in particular, those countries that participated,” he said.
“We hope that in future, we hope to have people coming from much further than we have seen this year, 1000 business visitors were received on day one and over 1 300 business visitors on the second day while day three had 800 business visitors checking in,” said Mr Moyo, adding that this shows confidence among local and foreign businesses.
The Zimbabwe International Business Conference held on Wednesday, said Mr Moyo, was oversubscribed. At the conference, Mr Moyo said the private sector expressed gratitude at the measures that Government was undertaking with a view to facilitate business expansion and the targets that have been set by the country.
The private sector has been assured that the Government will do its utmost to facilitate business in line with the “Zimbabwe is open for business” mantra of the Second Republic.
To buttress its re-engagement efforts, this year’s ZITF introduced the inaugural Diplomats Forum, which was attended by several ambassadors from across the globe whose countries have embassies in Zimbabwe. — @okazunga.