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ZITF branding courts ire

Loughty Dube

IN a controversial turn of events designed to raise income, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) company has branded its services in a move that will see it demanding a fee from all organisations that are using its name to advertise their products.
In the new development, newspapers that usually carry ZITF supplements will be required to pay $150 million to carry promotional material while stand designers are now required to pay $50 million before they are allowed into the trade fair grounds.

Taxi companies, accommodation providers, and other service providers will have to pay subscription fees to be accredited to the ZITF.

The ZITF company last year recorded an operational loss of $3 billion despite getting government assistance in grants channelled through the Ministry of Industry and International Trade.

Audited results revealed that the ZITF company’s income rose by 387% while its expenditure increased by 431% last year.

ZITF’s annual income for 2005 was $7,3 billion while the its expenditure was pegged at $10,7 billion.

Justifying the move at a press conference held at the ZITF grounds on Wednesday this week, ZITF chairman Nhlanhla Masuku said the branding of ZITF products would improve revenue generation.

“In the past companies were using ZITF’s name to make money but we are now saying that they will have to partner with us so that this becomes a win-win situation for everyone,” Masuku said.

“We know that media organisations make a lot of money from the supplements that they run on the ZITF and what we are asking from them is nothing compared to the revenue that they will generate afterwards,” Masuku said.

The ZITF opens in two weeks’ time and will be held under the theme “Springboard for Economic Revival”.

Questioned on whether the issue of charging media organisations a fee would not lead to a blackout of the whole event, Masuku said some media organisations appreciate that the ZITF needs to survive and they have already paid the accreditation fees.

Under the new branding exercise, companies accredited with the ZITF will be given a brand sticker to qualify the company as a properly accredited ZITF partner.

However, the move to charge fees has angered stand designers who have said that the $50 million accreditation fee is too much for them.

“What we will have to do is to pass on the costs to exhibitors and that is too much for them and indirectly the ZITF is turning away potential exhibitors with such a move,” said one stand designer who preferred not to be named.

Meanwhile, this year’s showcase has failed to attract exhibitors from Western countries as the country’s economy continues to decline.

Twelve countries are taking part at this year’s fair and a majority of them are from Asia, West Africa and the Southern African Development Community.

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