Auxilia Katongomara, Business Reporter
FIRST Lady Amai Auxilia Mnangagwa was yesterday impressed with youth participation at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) and implored them to increase participation in economic programmes.
She also commended women for taking initiatives and exhibiting at this year’s fair. In an interview after touring exhibition stands in Bulawayo accompanied by the Ugandan Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Barbara Nekesa Oundo, Amai Mnangagwa said she was impressed not only by the turnout of exhibitors but by the participation of women and youths at the country’s prime trade showcase.
“As much as you know that this year has been oversubscribed, over 100 percent, which shows that the people have interest in showcasing what they are doing at their companies.
“I’m very happy with the progress that I have seen. They all have a story of work and I’m also happy, particularly with the youths that have also come up to show us what they can do and I’ve encouraged them to make sure that they bring in a lot of youths,” she said.
The First Lady said women and youths should be actively involved in the economic revival of the country.
“Because what we want to do is to use our hands to help our economy and also it trains these young ones when they leave their homes.
“As parents they will know what to do to sustain their families. And to women I’ve seen a lot, women are doing everything, they are growing herbs, packaging them and some nutritious porridge for children and with this Cyclone (Idai) disaster that we had, that’s nice,” said Amai Mnangagwa.
She said some of the nutritious products that women were showcasing should be produced on a large scale and be distributed to hospitals to fight malnutrition in the country.
“I’ve visited hospitals and I’ve seen a lot of malnutrition. I was asking the Minister (Dr Obadiah Moyo) if we can have that in volumes so that we can take them down to the children who are malnourished. I’m so impressed,” said the First Lady.
She reiterated that Zimbabwe was indeed open for business as evidenced by the turnout of foreign investors at this year’s edition.
“Yes it tells it all that Zimbabwe is open for business, I’ve seen some new companies, Belarus. Japan is coming from that far to Zimbabwe and it only shows and tells a story that if we can have more coming, the environment in Zimbabwe is conducive and the people are lovely, it’s a free country,” said Amai.
Ugandan Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ms Oundo said the trade fair was a platform for Africa to unite and foster trade relations among its countries. She said it was indeed an honour for her country to be invited to officially open this year’s ZITF.
“First of all I would like to say that what I’ve seen is very impressive. I would like to bring it to the knowledge of our people that Africa is the least integrated continent and you realise that what we have in Africa is quite enough for us to trade among ourselves and survive.
“So, what I have seen today shows our potential as Africa. I have vividly identified sectors of agriculture, I’ve seen sectors of manufacturing, mining and ICT. What I want us to do is to come together as a continent and ensure that we trade among ourselves,” she said.
The Ambassador urged African countries to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) so as to increase business cooperation on the continent.
“We have quite a number of countries, about 22 of them that have already ratified AfCFTA. I just want to make an appeal to other countries that have not yet ratified, let them do that very fast so that we can trade among African countries, growing and booming as soon as we can because there is a lot we can do among ourselves,” she said.
Amb Oundo, who was in Bulawayo together with President Yoweri Museveni for the official opening of the ZITF, said regional integration was critical for the development of the continent as it brings benefits such as a drop in the cost of doing business and movement of people.
Amai Mnangagwa and Amb Oundo toured various exhibition stands with their first stop at the Angel of Hope Foundation stand before proceeding to the Zanu PF Hall 5 where they visited the women’s league stand as well as the Office of the First Lady.
They also visited the Women’s Bank, Empower Bank and the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, National Aids Council, Datlabs, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and the Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality stands.
They were accompanied by Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo, Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni and other senior government officials. – @AuxiliaK