WASHINGTON DC —
President Robert Mugabe officially opened the 55th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo on Friday returning to his old theme of attacking the West for imposing “illegal economic sanctions on the country.”
The president spoke on various issues but emphasised that Zimbabweans must remain steadfast and resilient against what he says are illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country by Britain, the United States and their allies.
Mr. Mugabe said, “Let us not crumble under sanctions and show the world that Zimbabwe will not die under sanctions and that Zimbabwe will never be a colony again.”
Mr. Mugabe said the West singled out Zimbabwe for punitive measures because Harare was empowering the indigenous black community through its land reform programme.
On the indigenization law, the president said his government has no plans to nationalize foreign-owned companies but will work with them to empower local people.
President Mugabe said despite the sanctions, 14 countries had participated at the ZITF this year.
He complained about poor service delivery in the country’s cities, adding some people were being forced to drink sewage water coming through their taps.
President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville was expected to officially open the ZITF but cancelled at the last minute.
Industry Minister Mike Bimha, whose ministry hosts the trade fair, told VOA Studio 7 that Sassou-Nguesso’s wife was not in good health resulting in his failure to attend the annual trade showcase.
Among the three countries making their maiden appearance at the fair are the United States of America, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. Other international exhibitors came from China, Botswana, Kenya, Brazil and Iran, Indonesia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.
China and South Africa are dominating the fair.
Chief economist Prosper Chitambara of the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute said such showcases are important in normal circumstances.
Conspicuous by their absence at the fair, running under the theme ‘New ideas to new heights’ are indigenous companies with the exception of Mr. Mugabe’s family business, Alpha Omega Dairy, which made a debut appearance.