Harare firms to dominate ZITF
FIRMS based in the capital, Harare, are again set to dominate local participation at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), the premier trade exhibition held annually in Bulawayo.
The 57th edition of the annual showpiece will be held from April 26 to 30 under the theme: Innovate, Integrate and Industrialise. ZITF board chairman, Bekithemba Nkomo, said 63 percent of local exhibitors would come from Harare, while 28 percent would come from Bulawayo. The rest would come from other cities around the country.
“At this year’s edition, Harare based companies account for 63 percent of participation,” Nkomo said.
Companies in the second largest city have been struggling to remain afloat, with many either shutting down or relocating to Harare since 2009. Many large companies that once were the lifeblood of the city’s industry have either liquidated or been placed under judicial management.
Notably, firms such as Lasker Brothers, Merlin, David Whitehead Limited, Textile Mills, Belmore Manufacturers and Ascot Clothing have shut down.
An initiative in 2011 to slam the brakes on the collapse of Bulawayo-based firms through the establishment of the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (DiMAF), to which Old Mutual contributed a significant chunk, did little to stem the collapse. Political wrangling and failure by government to contribute its share of the US$20 million fund affected DiMAF.
Davison Norupiri, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president, said the low participation from Bulawayo-based firms was indicative of the greater challenges facing industry.
“All it shows is how the industry has been affected in Bulawayo. If you look at the background of the city, it used to thrive on the clothing sector and also on the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ). The NRZ in turn used to cater for many downstream and even upstream companies. Its subsequent collapse has affected the firms,” he said.
Norupiri cautioned the ZITF management to guard against reducing the trade fair to an annual ceremony that yielded little value to businesses.
“Another explanation on the low participation from Bulawayo companies is that ZITF could now have become an annual event that does not yield results for them. So it is imperative that the ZITF team comes up with strategies that add value to companies; the ZITF team cannot operate under a business as usual approach, as it is no longer that under this economy,” he said.
The rare success story in the city has been the revival of clothing maker, Archer Clothing, after it received capital injection of nearly US$3 million from Paramount Garments.
Botswana-based grocer, Choppies, which has its national headquarters in the city, has also been aggressive in its retail expansion in Bulawayo. Earlier this month, the retailer opened its 17th store in the city, bringing to 30 the number of stores it operates nationwide.
Choppies Zimbabwe director, Siqokoqela Mphoko, said the retail giant was committed to helping the city’s recovery through job creation.
“We are a Bulawayo company and our drive is to lead the revival of this city’s economy and the creation of jobs. Plans are underway to construct the biggest warehouse in Zimbabwe which will be in this city.”
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