The Sunday News
Levi Mukarati, Harare Bureau
UGANDAN President Yoweri Museveni has thanked Zimbabweans for the hospitality he enjoyed over his two-day working visit, which help him reconnect with the country after three decades.
President Museveni arrived in Harare on Thursday before proceeding to Bulawayo with President Mnangagwa, where he officially opened the 60th edition of the historic Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) on Friday. He left Harare yesterday morning and was seen off at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by President Mnangagwa, Vice-President Dr Constantino Chiwenga, Cabinet ministers, senior Government officials and service chiefs.
In a post on his micro-blogging site, Twitter, President Museveni wrote: “Left Harare this (yesterday) morning to return home after a two-day working visit, where I also was chief guest at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo. I thank His Excellency @EMnangagwa for the invitation and Zimbabweans for the hospitality.”
President Museveni — who by yesterday afternoon had posted 14 tweets and 19 pictures related to his visit to Zimbabwe — also said he was pleased to be back in the country for the third time since 1980.
“I first came to Zimbabwe in 1980 at their independence ceremony where we marked another victory in the struggle against colonialism on the continent of Africa. Then in 1989 when Uganda was also just freshly resurrected from a nightmare. Pleased to be back.”
In earlier posts, President Museveni expressed satisfaction with Zimbabwean products on exhibition at the ZITF, adding that he was on a drive to encourage Ugandans to invest in local products.
“I toured several stalls and exhibitions with variety of products made locally by Zimbabweans. This is what I have been advising my people back home, that we should invest our efforts in producing goods we spend money importing, if we are to build Uganda. I also awarded the best farmers at the exhibition, presented a trophy to Zimbabwe Police and Defence Forces respectively for their excellent displays.”
President Museveni also used the micro-blogging site to emphasise that the struggle for Zimbabwe, like that for South Africa and Kenya, was mainly centred on the land question.
Former Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) leader Ian Smith, he added, had declared colonialists would remain in Zimbabwe for 1 000 years, but his dream never came to pass as the black majority successfully reclaimed their heritage. President Museveni expressed hope that Africa will rise to the call for unity. He underscored the need for the West to remove sanctions on Zimbabwe.
In his address at the opening of the ZITF, President Museveni also urged the country to leverage on its God-given natural resources and agriculture to grow its economy. ZITF, which ran under the theme “Propagating Industrial Growth through Trade and Investment”, ended last night. The event has been considered by organisers as historic.
For the first time since the inception of the international trade showcase 60 years ago, organisers were forced to pitch up tents to accommodate more exhibitors as all the available space had been taken up.
Uptake of space at the exhibition centre has been rising over the last five years, from as low as 47 612 square metres in 2016 to a high of 57 732 square metres in 2019.