Rise in Covid-19 cases make hosting ZITF impossible

United Refineries MD Busisa Moyo

THE Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company says it is unlikely to host this year’s edition of the country’s premier multi-sectorial exhibition as cases of the novel Covid-19 continue to rise.

ZITF Company board chairman Mr Busisa Moyo said the spike in Covid-19 cases in the country was continuously making it impossible for the organisation to host this year’s showcase. The 61st edition of the ZITF exhibition was supposed to be held from 21 to 25 April under the theme: “Augmenting Trade and Investment Towards a Shared Economic Vision” but was postponed indefinitely.

“With the rise in coronavirus cases being reported around the country and subsequent tightening of lockdown regulations, it has become increasingly apparent that the hosting of a ZITF edition in 2020 is improbable. In light of this, we are currently engaging our various stakeholders to finalise a definitive position which will be formally communicated to the market through the appropriate channels.”

ZITF Company had sold 94 percent of its exhibition space with seven countries, namely Belarus, Botswana, Japan, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania confirming their participation. Mr Moyo, however, said the company remains ready to host the exhibition in the event that the respiratory disease is contained.

“As the ZITF Company we remain ready and willing to host the show, only once it is safe and permissible to do so because the safety and well-being of our event participants is of paramount importance to the company. Following the decision to postpone ZITF 2020, we got in touch with our exhibitors to apprise them of that position. We would like to take this opportunity to commend them for their forbearance and understanding in these unprecedented times,” he said.

Mr Moyo noted that the pandemic has heavily disrupted industry while also stating that the company would consider offering its events as primary agents for post-pandemic economic recovery and renewal. He added that the company was considering deferring this year’s exhibition space payments by exhibitors to next year’s edition in the event this year’s edition was to be cancelled.

“Should ZITF 2020 be officially cancelled, we will once more engage them (exhibitors and service providers) on a mutually satisfactory way forward. One of the proposals under consideration is the deferment of payments to the ZITF 2021 edition, bearing in mind our contractual terms and obligations,” said Mr Moyo.

ZITF is the exhibition organiser’s major cash cow with other forms of revenue coming from the hosting of other annual exhibitions such as Mine Entra, Water, Sanitation and Energy Conference, Sanganai/Hlanganani Expo as well as hiring out its facilities as venues for the hosting of various events. The company also collects rentals from companies operating offices within the exhibition centre.

Apart from being a major revenue earner for the ZITF Company, most businesses, especially players in the hospitality industry and retail sector in Bulawayo, benefit immensely from spill overs from the hosting of the showcase. The company has also been forced to shelve its mining, engineering and transport exhibition, Mine Entra, which was scheduled to be held this month and are making an effort to host the event on virtual platforms.

“The conversations which happen during Mine Entra are fundamental and important to the continued health of the country’s mining eco-system, we have decided to host a series of Mine Entra virtual events and webinars. The first event will take place this coming Thursday and will focus on the future of the mining industry post-Covid-19,” said Mr Moyo.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS) has provisionally set the hosting of the 110th Zimbabwe Agricultural Show from 28 to 31 October. ZAS head-programmes and public affairs Ms Roberta Katunga said the exhibition would be held in accordance with strict Covid-19 regulations with grounds and halls expected to be disinfected four times a day while every entrance will be equipped with a walk-in sanitiser booth among other raft of measures to guard against the virus.

“ZAS has reduced the number of days from a six-day to a four-day show. The show shall be strictly a business show only with a maximum of 600 exhibitors to facilitate social distancing between exhibits. Business to business visits shall be limited to 500 people per hour to ensure social distancing of two metres is adhered to,” she said. – Sunday News