THE City of Bulawayo was a hive of activity last week as it hosted the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair which notably, was the best attended in more than a decade.
There is no doubt that the large turnout of businesses and members of the public was a sign that the country has turned the corner since the ushering in of the new political dispensation under the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. And spurred by President Mnangagwa’s clarion call and mantra, “Zimbabwe is Open for Business”, this year’s event was the biggest in a decade with the ZITF Company forced to extend exhibition space beyond the marked areas to accommodate more exhibitors.
“This year’s exhibition is interesting and unique in that it takes place against a backdrop of a palpable national excitement and a renewed positive economic outlook. We have seen an increase in exhibitor numbers and pre-registrations for other attendees as businesspeople from around the country seek to ride the wave of optimism that bodes well for our country,” said ZITF Company general manager Mrs Nomathemba Ndlovu.
“We have also seen an increase in the number of new local exhibitors as 25 percent of the 495 direct exhibitors who have confirmed participation will be participating for the first time. This, to us is pleasing, because it is indicative of an improved trading environment and renewed stimulus to compete in the global marketplace.”
About 18 foreign nations were represented at this year’s showcase and these included Botswana, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia while China, Cyprus, Germany, Ghana, India, Namibia, Malaysia and the UAE, which were exhibiting for the first time represented by a number of companies.
The President has emphasised that the era of prioritising politics over the economy is over as the new administration primes the country for growth. This new way of doing things has brought with it a fresh wave of enthusiasm in the business sector and the general members of the public are optimistic that the economic environment will soon change for the better. In addition, foreign companies, from the continent and outside, have been to the country to scout for business opportunities and sign deals. Others have already started work, a clear sign that the President’s clarion call that “Zimbabwe is Open for Business” is working.
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Lieutenant General (Retired) Dr Sibusiso Moyo was in the UK last week where he continued to charm the international world. He told businesses and diplomats that the country’s foreign policy is geared towards getting the best advantage so that it can be positioned as a key player on the global scene, working and co-operating with others for mutual benefit.
Speaking at an Africa Invest Business Forum in London during a segment themed “Zimbabwe: A New Dawn or More of the Same?” Dr Moyo said Zimbabwe’s rapprochement strategy centred on deepening relations with its traditional friends while restoring ties with hitherto estranged nations.
‘‘The strategy of Zimbabwe to get out of its isolation is basically to reassure those friends and deepen economic relations with those nations which have always been amenable to Zimbabwe. Secondly, to particularly re-engage with those nations which had not seen Zimbabwe with a positive eye. So we are saying we want Zimbabwe to be positioned in the global village as a player so that it can benefit and co-operate with everyone in the world and not necessarily one partner. We are saying we want to get the best advantage for the nation so that we can achieve the vision which the President has set for the nation.’’