BEDIA has confirmed that it had made a last minute decision to take part in the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) that has been thrown into controversy this year because of new farm invasions that threaten to put the event in doubt.
However, the CEO of BEDIAÔÇöBotswana Export Development and Investment Authority–said this week that the move to participate is in line with Botswana government’s gesture of helping revive that economy.
“Our decision is in line with government’s commitment to assist Zimbabwe and we decided to take part,” Dorcas Makgato-Malesu told reporters.
“We want to find out what opportunities exist,” she added saying that they have made that exception this year.
BEDIA is a Botswana government organ that helps companies that want to set up in the country to feel at home.
Last week, the Sunday Standard reported that Zimbabwe economists and farmers organisations have warned that the new farm invasions have threatened the five day ZITF as international exhibitors and white commercial farmers are boycotting the event in protest.
Marc Crawford, Southern Africa Commercial Framers Alliance (SAFCA) president said: “We are not attending this year’s ZITF. The government should stop farm invasions first. Our members are being beaten, tortured and harassed daily. The government is doing nothing about it. It’s surprising that when there is a new government we have fresh farm invasions.”
“Much as we did not have a budget and did not prepare for the fair, nonetheless we are taking part,” added the former sports administrator.
Following a regional commitment, the Botswana government has guaranteed Zimbabwe a P500 million line of credit although the money has not yet been dispatched.
The money would help rebuild industries like leather, steel and manufacturing industries amongst others.
The four-day edition of the ZITF kicks-off on April 28 and will be held under the theme “Golden Platform for Dynamic Take-off”.
At its peak, the ZITF attracted dozens of international exhibitors and brought together multi-sectoral interests across the whole business sectors, mining, hospitality and tourism, among others.
During a recent fact finding mission in Zimbabwe where they met with the Zimbabwe Business Council, BEDIA and other government agencies were told that most of the industry equipment were lying idle while lack of working capital was cited as a challenge with Zimbabwe companies currently.
However, BEDIA said that, at the moment, its dealings with that country will be around its mandate of mobilisation strategy.