Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
BULAWAYO virtually came to a standstill yesterday as thousands of people from all walks of life thronged the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre to witness the official opening of the 62nd edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) by President Mnangagwa.
By 8AM there were long winding queues at the exhibition centre’s several entry points as members of the public and exhibitors jostled to pass through security and Covid-19 testing check points.
Scores of people had to walk from the city and other areas as there was no parking space, a situation that forced many motorists to park indiscriminately on road sides and kerb strips.
When the Presidential motorcade made its way into the ZITF arena, cheerful crowds stood on the roadside and some people could be seen taking pictures and videos with their cellphones.
President Mnangagwa, who arrived in the city in the morning, had a briefing at ZITF offices before embarking on a lengthy tour of exhibition stands accompanied by Zanu-PF vice-president and second secretary Cde Kembo Mohadi, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza and the ZITF Company top executives among other senior Government officials.
As he moved from one stand to another, President Mnangagwa attracted attention from excited onlookers who jostled to catch a glimpse of the country’s first citizen.
His first stop was at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) stand at 10AM at Hall 3 and was there up to 12PM.
During the tour the President had an opportunity to interact with local and foreign exhibitors who shared their experiences.
Among the stands he visited was the National University of Science and Technology, Lupane State University and Gwanda State University where he marvelled at their innovative displays and took time to listen to their concerns.
President Mnangagwa also toured selected upcoming businesses such as Bulawayo-based company, Millennium Footwear where a number of locally made quality products were on display.
He also visited Nature’s Cabin, which manufactures a range of natural skin care products made from baobab and marula oil and was offered a hamper containing an after-shave, oils, scrubs and soaps.
The President and his delegation also visited foreign exhibitors from Belarus, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Kenya and Japan where he took time to engage with representatives and admired their diverse services and products.
The local firms’ stands visited included Bata Shoe Company, TelOne, NetOne and Treger Group. The President also made a stop at the African Museum of Liberation and the giant Zanu-PF pavilion in Hall 5 where the ruling party is showcasing a range of products and services covering different sectors of the economy.
At the Zimbabwe Defence Forces stand military personnel explained various services and duties to their Commander-in-Chief. The stand houses the Ministry of Defence and War Veterans’ Affairs, the Zimbabwe National Army and the Air force of Zimbabwe.
The President also toured the MenBelieveED stand outside Hall 5 before wrapping up his tour at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) stand where he was captivated by his artistic image overlooking the building. The stand is inscribed with words: “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo/ilizwe lakhiwa ngabanikazi balo.”
The stand has impressive chevron designs, which resemble architectural features associated with Great Zimbabwe and Khami monuments.
Inside the OPC stand, five sectors of the economy were picked to trace some of the value chains as Zimbabwe remains on course for Vision 2030 whose impetus resonates with the ZITF theme: ‘re-thinking, re-imagining and re-inventing value chains for economic development.’
Speaking to journalists soon after the tour, the President said he was impressed by the quality of exhibits and the numbers.
“There are several issues that we need to recognise, and firstly this year’s ZITF, is the biggest exhibition ever since the trade expo started. As we moved around, I have been advised by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr (Sekai) Nzenza that Zimbabwe is now producing more than 75 percent of products that are found on our shelves in shops and supermarkets.
“Most of these people are our own people and they come here at the ZITF in order to exhibit their products and do the networking among themselves, which is critically important.
“It now shows that Zimbabwe is out of depression and we are now on the trajectory of recovery of our economy.”
The successful hosting of the multi-sectoral expo is a milestone for Zimbabwe, coming at a time when the country has just re-opened its economy and is gearing towards a post-Covid-19 recovery. — @mashnets
Article Source: The Chronicle