Gabriel Masvora, News Editor
THE successful hosting of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) which ended in Bulawayo on Friday has given the Government a pedal and a compass on which direction to take when considering further reopening of the economy, exhibitors have said.

The event was cancelled last year as the world was battling increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases and it was also postponed early this year. However, the post-mortem of the event has shown that businesses can, with proper management, be able to further ramp up production and Government can further open business, according to sentiments from various exhibitors interviewed.

Furthermore, according to Government, among the tests for Covid-19 that were done during the four-day event, no one tested positive, a move the business community believes could be used to guide the economy further.

“The success of the ZITF must guide us going forward. Look at how many people were there and how organisers managed crowds and ensured that World Health Organisation protocols were followed. If we can do that at such a large scale then it means we can even do better at micro level like in companies with 50 or 30 employees,” said an exhibitor with one of the companies that participated at the event.

The Australian Embassy to Zimbabwe tweeted that the event has shown that Zimbabweans can work hard to contribute to the revival of the economy.

“Great for the Australian Embassy to be down in Bulawayo at the #ZITF — impressed by both the quality and quantity of exhibitors. Encouraging to meet so many Zimbabweans working hard to contribute to the economy. Congrats to @BusisaMoyo and @ZITF1 for a fantastic event.”

In response ZITF Company chairman Mr Busisa Moyo said: “Thank you Ambassador @AusEmbZim for the support, goodwill and your continued engagement of private sector in Zimbabwe. We look forward to hosting you at @ZITF next year. We trust we will all have learned to work around Covid-19 for yet another safe show!”

The success of the ZITF also comes as the country has shown that its efforts in fighting Covid-19 were close to fruition. Figures released by the Ministry of Health and Child Care on Friday showed that Zimbabwe has reached three million first dose vaccinations against a population of about 7,8 million of Zimbabweans who are 18 years and above with 2,1 million having received the second jab.

Victoria Falls has already reached herd immunity while Bulawayo is a stone’s throw away from reaching the milestone. The number of deaths from Covid-19 have also gone down drastically with the figures showing that only two people died on Friday.

Finance Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube, while addressing the Business Conference last Wednesday at the ZITF said the Government was almost reaching equilibrium in balancing the need to look after livelihoods and lives of the people.

More vaccines, he said will be procured, as Zimbabwe continues to be ranked among the best countries that have positively responded to the vaccination programme. Giving her final remarks on the event, Industry and Commerce Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza said President Mnangagwa was charmed by the zeal shown by everyone to ensure that the event was a success.

“We had a successful ZITF. There were some challenges because of Covid-19, as a result, we had to cancel it twice. I would like to thank the President for allowing this (event) to happen. We are saying that with the President’s vision and strategic direction we are witnessing change. This is one of the key issues of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, to focus on local production, utilising the natural resources that we have in this country and ensuring that there is quality and maintenance of standards,” she said.

The 61st edition of the ZITF ran under the theme, “Showcasing the new normal for business and industry: realities and opportunities.”  ZITF chairman Mr Moyo said the success signified a new normal.

“We are happy that the ZITF Company and all the exhibitors embraced the new normal of doing business by ensuring safety through the adherence to the Covid-19 protocols and regulations prescribed by the World Health Organisation. It is quite pleasing that, despite the economic challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall participation by companies was impressive with both domestic and foreign exhibitors having stolen the show,” said Mr Moyo.

This year’s exhibition attracted 11 nations among them Botswana, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Mauritius, Indonesia and Namibia. ZITF Company introduced the inaugural Diplomats Forum which was attended by several ambassadors from across the globe whose countries have embassies in Zimbabwe. There were at least 357 direct exhibitors with more than 40 109 square metres of exhibition occupied, with 11 percent being first time exhibitors. Of the exhibitors, 62 percent were from Harare, 25 percent from Bulawayo, ten percent from other towns and three percent from outside the country.

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