A Radio VOP reporter covering the fair witnessed Information ministry officials begging both foreign and local exhibitors to sign the petition launched by President Robert Mugabe a few months ago.
Meanwhile a poster written: “VaMugabe chete chete-Hakuna umwe achatonga Zimbabwe” (Only Mugabe shall rule Zimbabwe) attracted the ire of most exhibitors.
The ministry’s stand also incessantly played Zanu (PF) jingles throughout the day, resulting in complaints by exhibitors.
“I have come here to do serious business but I am now greeted by these jingles which we are also being fed to us daily by our national radio and television stations. I think the organisers of the event should do something about this in future. If you visit the Ministry of Information, you would think Zanu (PF) is the only party in government,” said an exhibitor whose stand is located near the ministry’s stand.
Eric Neshamba, a Mutare exhibitor added: “The ministry of Information and Publicity has lost relevance. The ministry has lost a very good opportunity to market the country. This year’s event is unique from previous trade fairs. A lot of companies have supported this year’s event because of the inclusive government.”
ZITF had over the last decade lost its prestige because of the political and economic problems that the country was facing. In the past Mugabe used the fair to attack his political opponents and the West.
This year’s event being held under the theme “optimising business synergies now and beyond” will for the first time be officially opened by someone who is not a head of state or government. It will be opened on Friday by Louis Ekra, the President of the African Import and Export Bank.