— President Joyce Banda of Malawi says it is sad that most African countries lack economic prosperity and development despite gaining political independence from former colonisers decades ago.
Officially opening the 54th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo Friday, Mrs. Banda said African leaders need to up their game so that the lives of ordinary people can be improved.
President Banda said African governments should modernize their economies, especially the agricultural sector, create a conducive environment for business and focus on job creation to uplift the lives of their citizens.
She said what pains her most is the fact that most African countries have been independent for a long time now but that political independence has not translated into economic prosperity.
Mrs. Banda, who was traveling with her husband, retired Chief Justice Richard Banda, said for the continent to catch up with the developed world, it must also embrace new technologies, adding this "will surely see livelihoods changing for the better."
Report By Nothando Sibanda
She also bemoaned the lack of trade between Malawi and Zimbabwe, saying, however, this is about to change following trade agreements recently signed by the two countries.
President Banda also touched on Zimbabwe’s political situation. She said the country’s destiny as the life of the unity government draws to a close, is in the hands of the people.
She criticized the sanctions imposed against President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle saying she will actively call for their removal.
ZITF chairperson Bekithemba Nkomo paid tribute to this year’s exhibitors, singling out China and South Africa as the biggest and most consistent participants at the fair.
Although Bulawayo mostly has small and medium enterprises exhibiting, there are also some big companies like Datlabs, Treger Products, Zimplow, Turnal and Zimtile.