Museveni jets in for historic ZITF

Herald Reporters
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni arrived yesterday and is today expected to officially open the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.

Last night, President Mnangagwa hosted a dinner in honour of the visiting Head of State at State House in Harare.

ZITF began on Monday and is being held under the theme, “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment”, and will be officially opened around midday.

The Ugandan leader was met at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by President Mnangagwa, senior Government officials, service chiefs and several African diplomats.

He was greeted with a 21-gun salute and inspected a Guard of Honour mounted by members of the Presidential Guard.

His presence at the annual show adds to the international flair where 16 countries — including Belarus, Botswana, Ethiopia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, the United States of America and Zambia — are participating.

The US has returned to ZITF after a three-year absence, a development which observers say is indicative of Washington’s commitment to re-engage with Zimbabwe.

Under the new political order led by President Mnangagwa, the country has been on a re-engagement drive with the international community to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) from across the  globe.

Some of the major highlights of this year’s trade fair include the ZITF International Business Conference that was held on the Wednesday and the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)/ ZITF Original Equipment Manufacturers’ Forum held yesterday.

For the first time in history of the trade fair, all the available exhibitor space has been sold out and special arrangements to accommodate more exhibitors have been made through pitching tents.

In Bulawayo, Vice Presidents Dr Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi yesterday conducted a tour of exhibition stands and participated in key investment meetings sharing the stage with industry and commerce executives.

Cabinet ministers and their deputies and representatives from the diplomatic community among other distinguished guests have also arrived and have been sharing their insights at different platforms of engagement across the city.

Indications are that official proceedings would begin earlier than during previous years with delegates expected to be seated at the ZITF main arena by 12 noon. Traditionally the official opening is preceded by a tour of stands by the President and the guest of honour.

A total of 532 local direct exhibitors and 16 foreign countries are participating while all available exhibition space has, for the first time in 60 years, been sold out, showing strong desire to do business in Zimbabwe under the new dispensation.