Zim Trade Fair showcases partnership for sustainable development

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30 April 2018, Harare - The City of Bulawayo was a hive of activity during the week of 24-28 April 2018 as the 59th annual edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) was declared open for business by President Emmerson D. Mnangagwa. ZITF brought together partners from across various sectors including trade, commerce, industry, agriculture and development under the theme ‘Sustainable Industrial Development.’

Speaking at the official ZITF opening ceremony in Bulawayo on Friday 27 April 2018, President Mnangagwa emphasised sustainable development can only be achieved by working together, adding “our economic thrust towards industrialisation and modernisation through government policy reforms, international re-engagement, attracting foreign direct investment and the ease of doing business will foster inclusivity and multi-faceted benefits for the people of Zimbabwe.”

 “The UN reconfirms its commitment to supporting Zimbabwe to advance sustainable, rights-based and inclusive development for all and strongly supports the new leadership’s commitment and efforts towards re-engagement with the International Financial Institutions (IFIs),” said UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Bishow Parajuli. “The UN System commits to scale-up its joint support to national efforts. In so doing, the UN remains committed to the principle of national ownership and leadership, under the overarching collective commitment to leaving no one behind, with a special focus on the most vulnerable populations, particularly children, youth, girls and women,” Mr. Parajuli said.

Public visitors to this year’s International Trade Fair engaged with UN staff members at the United Nations in Zimbabwe information stand about the six key ZUNDAF priority areas of food and nutrition security; social services and protection; gender equality; HIV and AIDs; public administration and good governance; and poverty reduction and value addition as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Global Goals.

Engagement centred particularly around health and gender issues where visitors were informed of the United Nations’ work in national health system strengthening through the Health Development Fund (HDF) supported by development partners the European Union, the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the governments of Sweden and Ireland, as well as national efforts to eradicate gender-based violence (GBV) in the country through the Joint Programme on Zero Tolerance to GBV 365 supported by the governments of Sweden and Ireland.

Interest also focused on the history and structure of the United Nations in Zimbabwe and globally, UN reforms to Security Council and Development System as well as volunteering and partnership opportunities with many people keen to contribute to the sustainable development of the country.

“I like the transparency of the United Nations and its partners who are doing a lot of good for our country” said 45- year old Mr Hunda Mpofu from Bulawayo, who attended the ZITF 2018 with his wife Ms Ncedo. In total, the UN information stand attracted over 1500 visitors during its two-day exhibition.

The United Nations in Zimbabwe works together with the government and development partners to support inclusive growth and sustainable development through the 2016-2020 Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework (ZUNDAF). The current ZUNDAF programme cycle covers five years, 2016-2020, with a budget of USD 1.6 billion, incorporates principles of disaster risk reduction, recovery and development. The ZUNDAF has delivered USD 812 million in 2016 and 2017 programme cycle in development grants, making Zimbabwe amongst the top-10 largest UN development portfolios globally.

UN in Zimbabwe’s partners also exhibited at the Trade Fair including the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, who have been capacitated by the UN in their respective national promotion of gender equality, peace and reconciliation, human rights and voter education and registration.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) launched a country-wide Bio-metric Voter Registration (BVR) process in October 2017 as part of the preparations for the upcoming general elections later this year. The UN, with support from the European Union and Japan, has contributed to this landmark voter education and registration exercise, with some 5.4 million voters registered so far and the process ongoing at the district ZEC offices throughout the country, including at this year’s ZITF.

“The turnout this week has been fantastic. We have been very busy registering over 600 voters through the BVR system at our stand,” said ZEC Bulawayo Deputy Provincial Election Officer, Mrs. Pretty Gadzikwa.  

One such voter is Phindile Gumbo (31) from Bulawayo who registered for the first time using the BVR system. “I am so happy I could register here today, it was so quick and easy,” said Ms. Gumbo. “I am looking forward to exercising my right to vote in the elections this year.”

This year’s ZITF attracted a record number of 753 exhibitors of which 68 were foreign, an increase of 6% from the previous year. Concurrent networking events took place on the side-lines of ZITF including the International Business Conference, with 800 delegates taking part. Guest of honour Vice President Hon. Constantino Chiwenga noted that success of the re-industrialisation agenda requires the competitiveness of local industries in the regional and international markets.

Also in attendance was the European Union’s Second Secretary (Agriculture, Private Sector and Trade) in Zimbabwe, Mr. Thomas Opperer stating the EU is happy with the “positive pronouncements” made by the Government over the last five months with scope for EU and Zimbabwe cooperation going forward.

“The EU is ready to support Zimbabwe in various spheres including the strengthening of economic and political institutions; improving governance and property rights; improving public finance management and macroeconomic policies; developing value chains and supporting the private sector; and strengthening public services for private sector development such as access to finance, advocacy, quality infrastructure and trade facilitation,” said Mr. Opperer.

The European Union is a significant development partner to the UN in Zimbabwe supporting various programmes on electoral support, capacity building of Parliament, gender equality, as well as supporting a number of initiatives. The initiatives include: Health Development Fund, Resilience Fund, Livelihoods, HIV and AIDS response to uplift the living standards of vulnerable communities along with other major partners Sweden, US, UK and Global Fund.