BEITBRIDGE – BUSINESS communities and local authorities in Zimbabwe's south-
western corridor must capitalise on twinning arrangements with similar South African
entities to strengthen economic ties between the two countries.
Municipalities in Matabeleland South Province towns of Beitbridge, Gwanda,
Bulawayo, Plumtree, Lupane, Hwange and Victoria Falls should benefit from the
Trans-Limpopo Spatial Development Initiative and boost tourism and development of
special economic zones, the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe International
Trade Fair Company, Nicholas Ndebele, said.
He was officially opening the third edition of the three-day Beitbridge Business Expo
at Dulivhadzimu Stadium on Saturday last week.
Ndebele, also guest of honour at the function, said the twinning of Matabeleland
towns with those in the northern parts of South Africa could only enhance and better
relations between the two countries.
I understand that the Beitbridge Municipality is twinned with Musina Municipality in
South Africa, as part of the Trans-Limpopo Spatial Development Initiative.
Additionally, it has been brought to my attention that other cities such as Gwanda,
Bulawayo, Hwange, and Victoria Falls, as well as numerous Rural District Councils,
are also involved in similar twinning initiatives with cities in South Africa, he said.
I am pleased to note that the Beitbridge Municipality has made notable progress in
establishing a Venda cultural village, which will facilitate the sharing of cultural
values between Zimbabweans and the neighbouring community across the Limpopo
River. This may help to further enhance the exchange of culture and business.
Last year officials from municipalities of Musina, Louis Trichardt, Polokwane and
several other local authorities toured most towns in Matabeleland to appreciate
areas of common interest.
Zimbabwean officials are expected to make return visits and have in tow business
executives to seal trade deals.
Beitbridge town has already agreed with Musina to co-develop the cultural village
near the sacred Dulivhadzimu Pool, a place renowned for traditional rain-appeasing
ceremonies of the past.
The local authorities will share expenses.
Zimbabwe is South Africas biggest trading partner in Africa but the business leans
more on SA as the supplier, while Zimbabwe is largely a consumer.
Areas of trade are mostly in agriculture and mining, but there i need to move into
manufacturing in both countries.
Ndebele said Beitbridge, which is the most populous of Matabeleland South towns,
should translate its strategic position as a transient town into economic sense.
Beitbridge Municipality is the most populous urban settlement in Matabeleland
South Province and with its 58,000 residents, it houses more than half of the
province's urban population. Being Zimbabwe’s busiest border town, the large
numbers of the transient population also provide myriad business opportunities for
the local economy, which should translate into economic sense for the residents of
the town, he suggested.
The town should latch onto the diligent efforts by the Beitbridge Business Expo
Committee in recognising this need and pooling their expertise, time and resources
to develop and execute such a pioneering event.
Within the Matabeleland regions, noteworthy events include the Gwanda
Agricultural Show, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, and the Victoria Falls
Carnival. However, prior to the inception of the Beitbridge Business Expo, there was
no substantial event of its kind dedicated to Beitbridge and its environs. The Expo's
ability to bring together a wide range of stakeholders, including business owners,
Government agencies, parastatals, potential investors not only locally, but across
Zimbabwe at large is praiseworthy. The Expos success is indicative of the vision and
persistence of the organising committee, he noted.
The Beitbridge Expo, a product of its chairperson Dr Annah Muleya, is built along the
models of the Harare Agricultural Show and brings together different businesses and
service ministries to interact with user stakeholders.
Ndebele said the Business Expo fits well with the Government’s mantra that
Zimbabwe is Open for Business and dovetails with our Vision 2030 of attaining an
upper middle-income economy by 2030.
The Beitbridge Business Expo offers a promising avenue to advance this inclusive
developmental agenda. The Expo provides various stakeholders, such as well-
established businesses, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), Government
departments, parastatals, local authorities, and private individuals, the chance to
exhibit their contributions towards our economys transformation and promote their
ventures. Moreover, this Expo, in line with Vision 2030s objectives, fosters
opportunities for participants to leverage and exploit as a catalyst towards achieving
Zimbabwes ambitions, he said.
This year had 80 exhibitors and different competitions including cooking and singing
Beitbridge, he said, must take advantage of its economic zone status to attract
investors and Beitbridge Municipality should have more river front Investment taking
advantage of the captivating riverine landscape of the Limpopo River, recognising
the vast potential that lies therein.
There is need to encourage investors to develop more river front accommodation
facilities, nature parks, water games, wildlife viewing (crocodiles, Hippo, birds, etc.)
Zip line, water sporting, boating, and canoeing. In short, Beitbridge is expected to
operate 24/7 across all its industries and commercial sectors, he said.
The chairperson of the Beitbridge Expo, Dr Muleya, said it was unfortunate her team
had to come back to Dulivhadzimu Stadium when she promised they would be at
proposed Beitbridge Showgrounds.
The committee was, however, failed by Beitbridge Municipality, which is yet to
allocate them land, Dr Muleya said, opting for diplomacy.
The Municipality is now at an advanced stage in allocating the land to us, so again
we are hopeful, and we dare to dream that next year we will meet you in the new
Beitbridge Expo showgrounds, she said.
Several companies had started paying towards permanent stands at the proposed
Showgrounds, which Beitbridge Town desperately needs.
Several people in Beitbridge question the land allocations in the border town, where
the local authority has been accused of allocating land only to its officials who later
sell at a profit, an allegation the local authority has failed to contest.
Dr Muleya said the theme for this year is Beitbridge Business 24/7 because they are
still striving for the town to catch up with other modern border towns in the world,
where services are available 24 hours a day se days a week.
Beitbridge border is operational 24 hours, so it only makes sense for travellers and
locals to have access to products and services 24 hours a day as well, she said.