THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has called for the immediate restructuring of the operations of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) Company following the appointment
of Nhlanhla Masuku as the new board chairman.
Masuku was the chairman of the Gold Mining and Minerals Development Trust (GMMDT) before it folded after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) withdrew funding.
Until Masuku’s appointment, the ZITF board was operating without a substantive chairman after the departure of Mthuli Ncube, who fled the country at the height of the crackdown in the financial sector last year.
ZNCC president Luxon Zembe said there was no clear policy regarding the role and operations of the ZITF.
“ZITF has immense potential but it can only be realised if proper structures and policies are put in place,” Zembe said.
He said the business community was not happy with the involvement of government in the structures of the ZITF, adding that business should take the leading role in its operations.
The Minister of Industry and International Trade appoints the ZITF board. This means that the organisation falls directly under the government, which controls its operations.
“What we are not happy with is its organisational structure involving the government which should only come in a supportive role for the business community’s efforts in encouraging trade and investment in the country,” Zembe said.
He said the business community was better equipped to organise and formulate policies relating to trade and investment.
Zembe said such an arrangement would bring returns to the business community that is in dire need of investment and synergies.
“The business sector should be allowed to organise the fair as it is in a position to identify the required areas of investments in the country’s various sectors,” Zembe said.
He said alternatively, the ZITF should be privatised to operate as an autonomous body with the mandate of promoting the country and business by hosting fairs.
Zembe said the ZITF also needed to be aligned with the current demands of the country’s economy.
“It really needs to be restructured to become relevant. An alternative would be for it to operate as a private company with the mandate to promote the country’s business sector,” said Zembe.
Confederation of Zimbabwean Industries (CZI) president Pattison Sithole however said the ZITF still had a role to play in marketing the country.
“They still have a role to play but as we have seen, they have not been fulfilling that role fully,” Sithole said.
He said the fair still needed to do more in its marketing of the country despite the downturn in the economy.
“It does not mean if you are going through a bad patch you should stop marketing, they should continue with their role,” said Sithole.