The Sunday News
ZIMBABWE’S premier trading event, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) ended on Friday in Bulawayo with its success undoubtedly showing that the country is not looking back on its strides towards achieving a middle-class economy by 2030.
After the country failed to hold the event last year and also being postponed on numerous occasions early this year, due to lockdowns that were necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic, it was time to show that the wait was worth it.
The event did not disappoint under the circumstances brought by the Covid-19 pandemic that restricted world travel.
Therefore, the success of the showcase once again indicated how Zimbabwe has been one of the countries that have scaled fences in managing the pandemic. The trading event, despite being commerce in nature, showed how we can manage the Covid-19 pandemic and still score highly on the economic front.
It is encouraging to note that no case of Covid-19 was recorded from the tests that were done during the four-day event. This is a massive achievement which must be lauded and it shows that as a country we still have the brains that can knit such an event in a way that is safe and sound. More importantly this year’s ZITF showed that the country needs to continue leaning towards an inward oriented industrial strategy.
We have been a victim of skewed trading for many years that often saw imports dominating many sectors. In the past, events such as ZITF were mainly characterised by predominantly foreign goods and this was manifesting in our retail sector as our shops were being filled with imports. We were basically propping other countries’ industries, acting as a hyper market, a situation that also contributed to the demise of a number of local companies.
Bad as Covid-19 could have been, it has now brought the best out of Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector. After most countries closed their borders to curb the spread of Covid-19, it became prudent for countries to focus on production of locally manufactured goods as imports were curtailed. It is pleasing to note that from the products on display during the trade event, a majority of them were manufactured locally and using mostly locally acquired raw materials. This is a good sign and a big indication that sometimes we do not need to depend much on imports to move forward this economy. All we need is to support the value-chain and the economy will start ticking again. ZITF 2021 showed that as locals we can think and manage our economy.
The manufacturing sector, after absorbing the shocks of the early lockdowns, emerged resilient and with vigour showing that our people are key to economic success. The sector suffered a knock that saw capacity utilisation going down to 47 percent in the first quarter of the year. However, the sector’s capacity rose to 54 percent in the second quarter and is now expected to end the year at above 61 percent, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). This ramp up in production has also been creating jobs with new jobs estimated at 12 percent of the total economy. It is such a milestone that showed we must pat ourselves on the back and show the world that Zimbabwe is not just moving in the right direction economically but it has also quickened its pace.
And more critically this quickening of the pace is through our own way, our own efforts and mostly by managing local resources to spur the economy. Without necessarily advocating for complete autarky we now need to protect these economic offshoots and nurture them to full blossom. And this year’s ZITF has shown us that we have the expertise and the brains to achieve this. With the capable hands of President Mnangagwa on the deck, the Second Republic, through the success of this year’s ZITF has clearly shown that when as locals, we come together we can achieve more. We need to continue putting our heads under the same thinking cap.