Nduduzo Tshuma Bulawayo Bureau
President Mnangagwa yesterday illuminated the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) as he toured various exhibition stands at arguably the biggest trade showcase in decades. The man who holds the highest office in the land took time to rub shoulders with members of the public and drew cheers from the crowds who literally fell over each other for a closer look at the face of the new dispensation.
The President, who was officiating at the ZITF as Head of State for the first time, reciprocated by periodically waving at the crowd, eliciting even more loud cheers.
Exhibitors were not to be left out as they clamoured for a chance to have a one-on-one with His Excellency.
With a meek demeanour not seen in a servant of the people in years, the President made a number of stops, inviting children to pose for pictures with him, much to the delight of the kids and their parents who never imagined such an opportunity.
When his aides appeared to be blocking the children from swarming him, President Mnangagwa gestured for them to be allowed passage.
The kids were spellbound, their parents mesmerised, members of the public wowed and exhibitors humbled as the President went about his tour with modesty.
The President was accompanied by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Dr Mike Bimha, ZITF Company chairwoman Mrs Ruth Ncube, among other senior Government officials.
He kicked off his tour by visiting the Schweppes stand and proceeded to Hall 1.
He also made a stop at Mutare-based timber processing company, The Wattle Company, where he was shown a range of products.
The company’s managing director, Mrs Victoria Jakazi, donated trusses for a classroom block that the President will hand over to a school of his choice.
She also donated charcoal to the President.
“The President was amazed by our products and wanted to know the people running the company,” Mrs Jakazi told our Bulawayo Bureau.
At the same hall, the President visited the Treger Products stand and was taken through various products before he was presented with a suitcase.
He then visited the Bulawayo Agricultural Society, where he was taken on a tour of various cattle breeds by Mr Chris Androliakos, the owner of Heads and Hooves, who breeds cattle and processes meat.
They proceeded to the National Foods stand before heading for the Produce Market Hall, where he was shown agricultural produce by farmers from Matabeleland South and North.
He was also taken through a variety of seeds at the Agriseeds stand.
There was palpable excitement as exhibitors awaited their turn to shake hands with President Mnangagwa.
The President and his delegation then visited the Command Agriculture stand, where they toured various products, including a variety of seed and agricultural equipment.
The delegation proceeded to Hall 5 housing, Zanu-PF stands.
He was received by Zanu-PF national chairwoman Cde Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri before touring a number of stands, including the Women’s League and Youth League stands.
Perhaps the highlight of the tour was when he got to a stand manned by Cde Gadzira Chirumanzu, who took the opportunity to play a documentary of the President’s life, from birth to his rise to the highest office in the land.
Also on exhibition were pictures taken from the liberation struggle, one of them with President Mnangagwa leading the former president Mr Robert Mugabe and some guerilla fighters.
The President also had an opportunity to reflect on the times and places that were captured in some of the stills.
After touring the Zanu-PF stands, President Mnangagwa visited Hall 4, which houses a number of embassies, starting with the Zambian Embassy stand that was exhibiting produce by various companies under the Zambian Development Agency.
After that the President visited the Botswana Embassy stand where he was shown products by different companies under the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre.
The President also toured the Nigerian and Japanese Embassy stands.
He winded up the Hall 4 tour by visiting the ZimTrade stand.
President Mnangagwa proceeded to the Grain Marketing Board stand before ending his tour by visiting the Office of the President and Cabinet, where he was welcomed by Chief Secretary Dr Misheck Sibanda.