Uhuru Kenyatta and the special Zimbabwe mission at ZITF

By Justin Mahlahla

A week after celebrating Uhuru, the 2022 edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair roars into life again in the City of Kings, coming at a special moment the regional political and economic tide seems to be shifting towards East and Central Africa.

It also follows President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s State visit to Kenya, where he and his counterpart, President Uhuru Kenyatta discussed and appended their signatures to various Memoranda of Understanding for socio-economic cooperation between the two partners.

Created as the Harare International Society, the now rebranded Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Show has come of age, having brought together region and international statesmen over the years.

This is is the single non-political event that reverberates across the African region and beyond, as every year, thousands of regional and international exhibitors converge in Bulawayo just for business.

The ZITF Company was founded in 1986, as a non- profit, limited liability private company. Its vision is to be the world’s first choice in offering innovative opportunities for social and business interaction, a befitting vision that augers well with the national developmental Vision 2030 and National Development Strategy One. The history of this international trade showcase dates back to May 1960 when the first Central African Trade Fair was opened by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. Since then, the show has grown from strength to strength.

Kenya is an economic giant of East Africa, contributing about 40 percent of gross domestic product of the East African Community region. Of course, other economies sich as Uganda and Tanzania are following close by. So, what is the significance of having Kenya at the 2022 ZITF?

Kenya is proving to be a key future trading partner for Zimbabwe. Essentially, the third Joint Commission held this year in March came 25 years after the last one, in what reflects the Second Republic’s commitment to enhance relations with friendly nations and build bridges with hostile nations.

President Mnangagwa said after closed door meeting with President Kenyatta, “The visit aims to improve the lives of peoples of the two republics.

“My visit to Kenya is aimed at consolidating our relations by refocusing our co-operation through increasing bilateral trade, investment in tourism, transport, science, technology and innovation among other aspects such as defence and security matters.

“This consolidation of relations is necessary, especially in the face of the growing threat of terrorism on our continent, in particular in North and West Africa as well as Mozambique.”

Countless times and on many international fora, President Kenyatta has amplified calls for the unconditional removal of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, a clear show of solidarity and brotherhood.

In the spirit of brotherhood, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has returned the favour, calling on Zimbabwe to name one of her major streets after President Kenyatta. This is one of the highest honours a stateman can be accorded in a foreign land to immortalise their works.

This will take place on April 29, during President Kenyatta’s state visit to Zimbabwe.

Prior, he would have arrived in the country on the 27th of April, lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in honour of Zimbabwe’s departed liberators whose location is still unknown to this day.

The same day he will come face face to face with magnificence at the Great Zimbabwe Monument and World Heritage Site, gaining invaluable insight into the timeless history of Zimbabwe.

Perhaps this will prepare and inspire him for his official duties the following day, the 29th, when he is expected to officially open the 2022 ZITF edition, the 62nd edition under the theme, “Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development.”

A rather packed itinerary, but all the same indicative of the times we are in. The two states and their statesmen continue to solidify relations for the benefit of their two peoples.

Viva Kenya!

Viva Zimbabwe!