Why Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta cancelled his trip to Zimbabwe

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KENYAN President Uhuru Kenyatta will not be able to attend the 62nd edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) this week as earlier scheduled following the death of his country’s former president, Mwai Kibaki, a senior Government official confirmed yesterday.

Kibaki died last Thursday aged 90 and President Kenyatta declared a mourning period until his burial, with flags flying at half-mast.

The former Kenyan leader will be given a state funeral with full military honours, the Kenyan government said while officially announcing his death.

President Kenyatta was expected to officially open this year’s edition of the ZITF on Friday.

The country’s prime trade and investment exhibition begins at its traditional venue in Bulawayo tomorrow under the theme: “Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development”.

President Mnangagwa had invited Kenyatta to officially open this year’s ZITF, which has attracted more than 500 direct exhibitors, of which 71 are first timers.

A total of 14 foreign nations are expected to exhibit and these are as follows: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Belarus, Britain, Indonesia and Japan.

However, due to Kibaki’s death, President Kenyatta is unable to attend the ZITF, said Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, yesterday.

“President @edmnangagwa announced that President Kenyatta is no longer coming for the ZITF as there is national bereavement in Kenya following the death of former President Mwai Kibaki,” he posted on his official Twitter account.

“President Kibaki was Kenya’s 3rd President and an ally of the late President Jomo Kenyatta.”

Meanwhile, the momentum for the ZITF is building up and Bulawayo is expected to be a hive of activity this week as exhibitors and business delegates flock to the city.

By last week several exhibitors were already working on their pavilions amid hopes for renewed business gains.

The increased visitor traffic is good news for Bulawayo as a whole, said Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Raj Modi.

“Bulawayo will be very busy this week and this is good for the local businesses who always look forward to the ZITF as a Christmas moment for their operations. Retailers, hospitality sector and others make good business during this period,” said Modi, who is also a local businessman and legislator for Bulawayo South.

The ZITF organisers have lined up a packed programme for the week with Vice-President, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, expected to officially open the International Business Conference (IBC) on Wednesday. He will also deliver a keynote address at the inaugural Connect Africa Symposium the following day.

The IBC will run under the ZITF theme: “Rethink, Reimagine, Reinvent Value Chains for Economic Development”.

According to the ZITF Company, there will be three-panel sessions, the first being anchored on the structural transformation of value chains.

These will highlight perspectives from business and industry leaders and will be co-chaired by the president of Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), Mr Kurai Matsheza, and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president, Dr Tinashe Manzungu.

ZITF chief executive officer, Dr Nicholas Ndebele, has said due to the overwhelming response and space limitations in the conference venue, this will result in limiting the number of attendees on a first-come, first-served basis.

The second panel will seek to tackle inclusive value chain development through financing and investment. This segment will be led by the executive vice-president of Afreximbank, Mr Denys Denya, managing director of BancABC Zimbabwe, Dr Lance Mambondiani who will be representing Bankers Association of Zimbabwe, IDC chairman, Mr Winstone Makamure, Zida acting chief executive, Mrs Duduzile Shinya, and AFDB country manager Ms Moono Mupotola.

The third panel will be focusing on re-imagining value chain opportunities and challenges and will be chaired by ZEPARU executive director, Dr Gibson Chigumira.

In view of the Covid-19 sensitivity, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has said it will be exhibiting and offering services including PCR and antigen testing, vaccination card activation, alcohol disorder, and drug use screening tests, among others.

— Chronicle


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