Posted: April 25, 2015
Zimbabwe Interntional Trade Fair
|Members of the Government of the Zimbabwe
Ambassador Vusi Mavimbela
Mrs Noma Ndlovu, General Manager of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair,
Ladies and Gentleman
I am pleased to be speaking here at this event. Our presence is symbolic of the principles of Ubuntu which the South African Government deems to be important for the African continent and all its peoples. As a country we believe our growth and prosperity is inextricably linked with the continent and at times we encounter challenges in addressing the needs of our citizens and all who live in our country. Recently I have personally been part of the anti-xenophobia campaigns to educate South Africans on the role that has been played by our brothers and sisters in the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime. The deployment of military personnel to hotspots of xenophobic attacks is further testament to the South African Government’s commitment to protection of all people living in the country. President Zuma has unequivocally decried the attacks and has underscored that we will continue to dialogue as South Africans.
May we observe a moment of silence for the lives that have been lost during these attacks.
It is important to continually remind ourselves of the role that was played by Zimbabwe and other African countries in the days of apartheid. President Zuma and President Mugabe recently reminisced on the days of the struggle during the days of apartheid and also during the days of colonial rule. The lasting impressions from the State Visit held recently in Pretoria, South Africa are that the economic emancipation of all the people of the continent have become more urgent that political freedom.
This in a nutshell is why we are here. Minister Rob Davies and other the dti officials are also part of the SADC Summit in Harare. They are in dialogue with other African Ministers of Trade that are deliberating the details of how to attain this economic emancipation in the region. Our participation here at ZITF is but a part of the broader scheme. This National Pavilion is aimed at showcasing South Africa’s products with the view to increasing intra-regional trade.
I am happy to be in the midst of the businessmen and women from both South Africa and Zimbabwe. Let us not allow these recent developments to tarnish the leading role that both our countries are playing in Africa’s trade and economic integration. This is registered in the work we do in so far as promoting trade and investment not only into Zimbabwe but also into the rest of Africa. This is because we believe that South Africa’s future is inextricably linked with the rest of the continent. As much as South Africa’s membership to multilateral forums is beneficial to the country, it is also beneficial to the rest of the continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The challenge on the unsustainable skewed trade that exists between South Africa and Zimbabwe has been identified. Trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe has been growing significantly despite continuing political and economic uncertainties in Zimbabwe. Between 2005 and 2014, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe grew by 247.3 per cent from R 7.1 billion to R 24.8 billion. In the same period, imports from Zimbabwe fell by 54.7 per cent to R 2.0 billion from R 4.4 billion that was reported in 2005.
President Zuma highlighted that the fall in Zimbabwe’s exports to South Africa can be attributed to a variety of economic challenges, ranging from severe GDP contraction of over 50 per cent, to official inflation peaking to about 231 million per cent since July 2008. The major factor to the fall in exports was the capacity utilization in industry which fell below 10 per cent by January 2009, implying little or no exports at all. The global financial crisis further exacerbated these economic challenges by curtailing the country’s positive exports growth from 2005 to 2008.
We believe that the delegation that we have brought comprising 23 companies from the textiles, manufacturing, agro-processing, chemicals, metals sectors are integral to reversing the trajectory of trade balance. At the same time we have carefully selected these companies as we believe that their products are aligned to ZimAssets’s goals that were elaborated at the State Visit during the Business-to-business engagements.
Our participation in 2015 ZITF is a continuation of previous participation at this fair which is arguably one of the largest intra-regional trade fairs in sub Saharan Africa. ZITF has grown into a much sort-after event on the local, regional and international calendar owing to the networking and business opportunities. South African companies are attracted to ZITF because of the exposure to trade and investment opportunities for public visitors from various sectors. South Africa has won the best stand award for the three successive years at the ZITF, thereby illustrating South Africa’s key role as an investor in Zimbabwe. Ambassador Mavimbela received the award on behalf of South Africa from President Robert Mugabe on the 25 April 2014.
We would like to urge the business companies to utilise this opportunity provided to strike mutually beneficial and lasting deals. Both Governments have laid forth the foundation for business between the two countries to prosper. I hope to receive positive feedback from this event and later on in the year when we undertake the Investment and Trade Initiative. As government we remain committed to ensuring a smooth and conducive investment and trade platform between our two leading nations.
I thank you