Low-Key ZITF 2014 Reduced To SMEs Showcase

By Farai Sibanda

 

Bulawayo, April 27, 2014 -The five- day Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) 2014

showcase in Bulawayo which ended  Saturday was one of the worst  in over a decade regardless

of all public pronouncements to the contrary.

Many big  local corporations who rarely miss the annual show did not

participate. Bata Shoe Company, Art Corporation, Gwanda Town Council

among others snubbed this year’s exhibition which was mostly attended

by Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) popularly known as MaIndigenous.

Still reeling under de-industrialisation and ravages of economic

melt-down many renowned Bulawayo firms did not exhibit at this year’s

trade fair.

Hall 2 which is one of the largest halls  at ZITF exhibition centre

was closed as a result.

Chinese SMEs  also filled up Hall 5 and were even selling their wares,

a move that buttress the view that the exhibition was a selling point

instead of attracting long term investment.

The  Chinese were displaying common products such as children’s toys, curtains,

 cellphones, teaspoons and others at their stands.  The United States was the

 only major Western nation which was exhibiting at this year’s ZITF with its

 Harare Embassy showcasing students’ scholarships and HIV prevention

 programmes on offer.

  “This year trade fair is not impressive, we have small companies

 exhibiting, and this shows there is no money in the economy. Even

 exhibitors from South Africa are just SMEs which add no real value to the

 trade showcase,” said Moses Nyoni a Bulawayo based business executive

 who attended the ZITF.

 The 2014 trade fair edition was running under the theme, “New Ideas,

 New Heights, and Progress through Innovation.”

 President Robert Mugabe officially opened the fair  Friday

 after Congo-Brazzaville  President Sasou Denis Nguesso pulled out at

 the last minute. He complained about the absence of livestock yet the fair was being

held in Matabeleland, popularly known as the ‘cattle country’ due to the large herds 

found in the provinces.

Mugabe also took time to condemn the state of the country’s roads.

“I was looking at our road as I left the airport, it’s as if it was

 constructed in 1924 when I was born. We couldn’t even have beautified it,

 just put a bit of cement on it, resurfaced it and also decorated

 it,put a bit of shoulder on the road as others are doing,” said Mugabe.

 “This year’s ZITF exhibition is a shame. It’s like a flea-market. We

 cannot have a trade fair where only SMEs are exhibiting. It shows big

 enterprises no longer have confidence in it,” said Harare based

 economist who spoke to Radio VOP on condition of anonymity.

 Addressing journalists at press conference at ZITF grounds on Saturday

 Industry and Commerce Minister Mike Bimha admitted that this

 year’s trade showcase was not up to standard blaming the shortage of

 cash as the main reason.

 “The space occupancy level is approximately 4% lower than last year’s

 94% and some of our exhibitors took slightly smaller stands because of

 liquidity challenges. We had 599 exhibitors in total compared to 656

 exhibitors last year,” said Bimha.

 The Ministry of Information,Media and broadcasting stand profiled Mugabe under

 the Gushungo Moments banner. Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo said the Gushungo Moment

 exhibition was meant to inspire the youths to follow in Mugabe footsteps.

  “This is not just an exhibition of the President. It is an exhibition

 of iconic moments of the President which is why we are calling them

 Gushungo Moments,”said Professor Moyo.