Nduduzo Tshuma, Political Editor
THE historic 60th edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) has proved to the world that Zimbabwe’s re-engagement efforts with the international community are yielding positive results.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday officially opened the oversubscribed trade fair and stressed the importance of reengagement in facilitating fruitful trade as the stimulus for economic transformation.
President Museveni arrived in the country on Thursday night and President Emmerson Mnangagwa hosted a dinner in honour of his counterpart at State House in Harare the same night.
First to arrive at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo yesterday was President Mnangagwa accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa and senior Government officials.
He was welcomed by Bulawayo provincial affairs Minister Judith Ncube, his two deputies Cdes Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, the Minister of Industry and Trade Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu and other ministers, senior government officials and service chiefs.
A few minutes later, President Museveni landed in his Presidential plane accompanied by Home Affairs Minister Cain Mathema and senior Ugandan government officials.
The two Presidents exchanged pleasantries before they were led to their respective vehicles forming a long convoy.
But before they got to the vehicles, the two leaders stopped to marvel at a performance by a traditional dance ensemble at the airport.
They were then whisked away to the ZITF arena led by police motorbikes and escort vehicles whose sirens pierced the air with flashing blue lights as they made their way to the venue.
Members of the public had gathered on either side of the road to watch the convoy.
At the ZITF grounds, the two leaders kicked off their tour at Hall 4 starting with Zimtrade where they were shown a number of products manufactured by various companies exhibiting at the stand.
The Presidents proceeded to the giant mobile operator Econet stand where they were shown a number of products on exhibition. They moved to the United States stand which has been absent from the fair for the past three years before touring the Fairpros stand. Fairpros is the official Representative of five leading German trade fair organisers.
The two Presidents then visited Kenya, the last stand they toured in hall 4.
They proceeded to Mika Resources where they were shown massive irrigation equipment on exhibition.
The leaders were led to Hall 5 housing the ruling Zanu-PF and were welcomed by party Women’s Affairs secretary Cde Mabel Chinomona.
In the hall the two leaders toured the women’s league stand before moving to the office of the First Lady. They then moved around seeing products on exhibition before moving to the cards and ICT section where new members were joining the party.
The two Presidents then visited the youth league stand and proceeded to the Chitepo School of ideology stand where they were welcomed by its principal Cde Munyaradzi Machacha, party national commissar Dr Engelbert Rugeje and his deputy Cde Omega Hungwe.
The two leaders then visited the Command Agriculture stand where they were shown a number of products on exhibition and as they headed out were handed gifts by a delegation led by Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri.
Presidents Mnangagwa and Museveni then toured the Belarus stand where they were welcomed by the country’s ambassador Mr Alexandr Sidoruk. Belarus is exhibiting for the first time and is confirmation of the benefits of President Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive and opening the country to investment.
The two leaders concluded their tour by visiting the Department of War veterans Affairs where they were welcomed by Retired major General Chancellor Diye.
After that the two leaders went for lunch before proceeding to the main arena for the official opening of the historic trade fair by President Museveni. This was his second time to officially open Zimbabwe’s international trade expo having presided over the same event in 1989.
After the official opening the two leaders proceeded to the JMN International Airport where President Museveni inspected a send off guard of honour mounted by the Presidential Guard.
First to leave for Harare was President Mnangagwa so that he could welcome his counterpart back in the capital.