CHINESE nationals exhibiting at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo raised eyebrows after reducing the standards of the showcase to a flea market by selling their products directly to the customers.
report by Musa Dube
A trade fair is an exhibition organised so that companies in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products and services, hoping to receive orders and establish partnerships that will last for years.
However, the Chinese violated the exhibition rules when they started selling their products directly to the customers on the day the fair kicked off. The Standard witnessed the Chinese exhibitors, being assisted by the locals, busy selling their products instead of showcasing.
While other business people bro-ught heavy machinery and equipment for exhibition at the trade fair, most of the Chinese exhibitors brought some boxes containing cheap jewellery, clothes and handbags. The jewellery prices ranged from US$2 to US$5 and their stands were a hive of activity as people swarmed to buy the
products that were lowly priced.
Other products that were being sold were pharmaceutical goods such as Vicks and cosmetics. During the peak of the economic decline in 2009, the ZITF had allowed some local small to medium enterprises to sell their goods after big companies had shunned the show.
However in 2011, ZITF banned the selling of goods by exhibitors during the event to prevent the fair from being turned into a flea market. Flea market traders in Bulawayo said it was unfair that the Chinese were getting preferential treatment.
“The ZITF management should next time also give us space to sell our products, because it’s unfair to allow other people to sell while denying others,” said
Jessica Moyo. “Some years back we used to sell various goods directly to people but the ZITF stopped us saying this was a platform for exhibiting, not for selling but surprisingly we are now seeing the Chinese selling their products in the show. It’s unfair.”
ZITF general manager Daniel Chigaru said the Chinese had been told to stop selling at their stands, as this was not allowed.
He said no serious exhibition anywhere in the world allowed the direct selling of goods from stands.
“We have very strict rules that prohibit selling of goods. We normally send a circular stating that no selling is allowed in the exhibition. We don’t take kindly to those who decide to sell directly to consumers,” Chigaru said.
China was the biggest exhibitor after South Africa, occupying about 600 square metres. There were about 16 foreign nations participating at this year’s fair compared to last year’s 14. The countries included Botswana, Brazil, Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Pakistan, South Africa and Tanzania.