Tycoon Cyril Ramaphosa Withdraws Invitation To Zimbabwe's Trade

ZITF bosses refused to comment on the “sensitive’ issue preferring to say that he had told them that he was “busy” and, therefore, could not attend the annual extravaganza, the largest international exhibition in Zimbabwe.

Ramaphosa has now been replaced by little-known Johnny Smith, Chief Executive of Walvis Bay Corridor from Namibia.

Exclusive interviews and investigations reveal that Ramaphosa had in fact not agreed to address the Zimbabwe business tycoons at ZITF and his name had been forced on to the advertisement that was sent out “prematurely”.

But current negotiations between South African President, Jacob Zuma, and the three Principles of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) could have been put into jeopardy had top notch Ramaphosa come to Zimbabwe. There is already bad blood between President Robert Mugabe of the former ruling party Zanu (PF) and Zuma.

President Mugabe makes up the the three GPA figures, namely Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC former President Arthur Mutambara as GPA signatories.

Zuma and Mugabe have been at loggerheads about happenings in the GPA because most of its targets have been missed especially coming from the Zanu (PF) side.

Questions sent to the ZITF in writing had not been answered at the time of going to press.

The African Development Bank (ADB), President Dr Donald Kaberuka is expected to officially open the lacklustre event.

The National Economic Consultative Conference (NECF) had said it had “initially” already lined up “five top local and international business leaders” to address its International Business Conference which will run parallel to ZITF 2011 which is held in Bulawayo.

Other speakers lined up are Engineer Josh Chifamba, the new Chief Executive of struggling parastatal, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority Holdings Limited (Zesa), Douglas Mboweni Chief Executive of telecommunications giant, Econet Wireless Holdings Limited (Econet), the largest mobile network operator in the country with more than five million customers connected and Richard Mbaiwa, Chief Executive of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA).

The ZIA recently opened what it said is a One Stop Shop” in Harare to quicken project approvals from about three months too six days after invoice.

Once rated as the largest and most influential gathering of local and international business leaders in Zimbabwe, the annual ZITF is now very mediocre and has been overshadowed by other international events such as the Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA).

Many foreign exhibitors have pulled the plug on the ZITF saying Zimbabwe is not a good investment destination, has lopsided investment regulations and its government under President Robert Mugabe does not respect property rights, among other problems.