THE 56th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) opened on a low note yesterday with exhibitors complaining of low business on the first day of the showcase.
BY BATANAI MUTASA
Seventeen countries — Botswana, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Germany, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Cyprus, Namibia, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, the United States and Zambia — are exhibiting.
Traditionally, the first three days of ZITF are reserved for business visitors, while the last two are open to public exhibitors.
Palladium Africa operations and business development manager Patrick Bhebe blamed low business on the failure of some exhibitors to set up their stands on time.
“I was very surprised to see people still painting and mounting displays a day before the start of the fair,” he said.
“Even today, others are still setting up and that is why there is limited business activity.”
Stands which were still under construction included that of the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, City of Harare, Department of Deeds Companies and Intellectual Property, Air Namibia and Air Botswana.
South African exhibitor Will Odendaal of Rocksolid Industries concurred with Bhebe, saying the first day was very quiet.
“But we should give it time because there is hope,” she said. “I want to commend the organisers of this event because it is well planned.
“I believe as soon as everything is in place, the whole programme will not have any hiccups.”
Despite relatively subdued activity, some exhibitors were hopeful that business would pick up and sign deals.
Exhibiting at the African Sun Limited Casino stand, Sophi Machaya said although the stand was not yet fully operational, the number of enquiries in the first few hours of the day was encouraging.
The annual fair will run until Saturday under the theme Simulating Trade: Seizing Opportunities to Accelerate Growth.
Zambian President Edgar Lungu is tomorrow expected to officially open the trade fair, a major annual event on Bulawayo’s business calendar.