Bigger, better fair planned
“We are upbeat and excited about this years’ Trade Fair following the response we have received still two weeks before it gets under way,” said Masuku when he addressed a Press conference after the company’s Annual General meeting. He told journalists that the number of foreign countries that will exhibit at the premier event had doubled this year and expressed optimism that the number would be even bigger when the ZITF opens its doors on April 25. “We have already received confirmation from 16 countries this year compared to just eight last year and there is a further seven that are likely to come on board before April 25”, said the ZITF boss. The countries have been drawn from the Southern Africa Development Community, West Africa, North Africa, the Far East, Asia and with a possible two coming from Europe for the first time in five years, according to Masuku He said that this was a clear indication of the return of confidence in the Trade Fair which had suffered from European Union and American group solidarity in boycotting what was for years the largest intra regional trade fair – a six day exhibition that offers exposure to both trade and public visitors. The ZITF seems to be on its way to recovery after a five year decline that was caused by an American and British led onslaught in protest at Zimbabwe embarking on an equitable land distribution programme. Masuku also revealed that this years’ fair will run from April 25-29 under the theme “Springboard for Economic Revival” and 353 new local exhibitors have so far confirmed their participation and more are expected before the Trade Fair begins. “We are within a record entry as the number is just shy of the 369 new local exhibitors that showcased last year,” said Masuku. He added that his organisation was seriously targeting Small to medium Enterprises in line with Government policy to empower marginalised entrepreneurs. “Our objective is to attract a large participation for the upcoming businesses and encourage them to venture into the mainstream economy,” he said. However of all the local industries, Masuku said his company was excited by the success of the agriculture industry this year particularly cotton and the cattle ranching. “Cotton, in particular has reported an exceeding boom and we want to promote our textile industry in a big way. We have arranged three modelling shows, designs, fashion shows three times a day in Hall One to fully market our locally manufactured clothing products and textiles,” said Masuku. The cattle show this year will be even bigger and better, according to the ZITF chairman “We have three sections with good entries for our Cattle Show. Sixty animals have been entered for the pedigree show, 80 head of cattle have been put forward for the display pedigree and a total 140 will be auctioned in the fat stock category”. Masuku also assured the exhibitors, particularly the foreign visitors to the City of Kings, that mechanisms to ensure that their goods would be cleared timeously at all ports of entry had been put in place. “The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority are our advisors and have put in place a special desk for ZITF exhibitors at all ports of entry, be it at airports or border posts, that will exclusively clear their goods in record time. “I am also happy to report that the question of fuel has been addressed and the country has enough fuel being sold at market prices which is enough to cover the Trade Fair period and beyond,” said Masuku. The ZITF boss also revealed that they have struck a partnership with service providers to avoid a situation whereby visitors are charged exploitative fees. “We have sent our foreign exhibitors our branded service providers in such areas as accommodation, transport, catering, clearing agents and so forth who have all been endorsed by the ZITF company to provide these service at reasonable rates”. He urged exhibitors to stick to endorsed service providers to avoid a repetition of the past when there were complaints that service providers increased their charges to excessive and exploitative levels during the week of the Trade Fair. The guest of honour to officially open the ZITF has still not been named. “As you know the ZITF is also a state function and the Ministry of Industry and International Trade is responsible for providing us with details about the guest of honour. They have not yet done so,” said Masuku. The 2005 and 46th edition of the ZITF that was officially opened by Mozambican President Amando Guebuza. It was held under the theme “Economic growth through Trade Development”. This was after the positive gains of the turnaround programme throughout 2004 and the ZITF management felt that 2005 should provide, various sectors participating in the exhibition an opportunity to showcase their efforts towards economic growth, stability and trade development. The trade attracted 78 foreign and 618 local exhibitors of whom over 60 percent were regular participants while 27 percent were exhibiting for the first time.