Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has today officially opened the 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo.
Museveni who arrived at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on Thursday, was greeted with a 21-gun-salute by Zimbabwe’s military before attending a dinner hosted in his honour at State House.
This year’s trade fair, which is being held under the theme, “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment,” runs from April 23-27.
While speaking at the ZITF official opening, president Museveni said that, Uganda has for long had good political ties with the revolutionary party Zanu PF dating back to the days of the latter’s liberation struggle. He went on to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for achieving self-rule.
“Ian Smith (the late Rhodesian Front leader) once said Rhodesia would be here for a thousand years but this did not happen as Zimbabwe attained its Independence in 1980,” President Museveni said.
Adding that, “the struggle for Zimbabwe’s independence never slackened until the country attained its sovereignty through a protracted struggle.”
He went on to congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for achieving self-rule, but was also quick to condemn the illegal economic sanctions. He called for their unconditional removal.
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“In 1989 when l was here (in Zimbabwe), Uganda was weaker. Uganda died and resurrected and today we are much stronger than in 1989. The idea of sanctions is cowardice, and if Africans were working together they should have put counter sanctions in support of their member,” Museveni said.
Adding that, “Uganda is prepared to walk with Zimbabwe on the journey to economic boom.”
Under the new political order led by President Mnangagwa, the country has been on a re-engagement drive with the international community with a view to attracting the much-needed foreign direct investment from across the globe.
“Zimbabwe is open for business and the Government has worked out the ease of doing business reforms to propel the country to an upper middle income economy,” says Mangaliso Ndlovu, Minister of Industry and Commerce.
Adding that, “There is no better time to consider investing in Zimbabwe than now.”
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Organisers say 532 exhibitors from 16 countries are taking part this year, with all available space taken.
“For the first time in history of the trade fair, all the available exhibitor space has been sold out and we have made special arrangements to accommodate more exhibitors,” said Ms Ruth Ncube, the ZITF Company board chairperson.
Some of the major highlights of this year’s trade fair include the ZITF International Business Conference that was held on the 24th of April, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI)/ ZITF original equipment manufacturers forum on April 25, with the public days to run from April 26 and 27.