Foreign exhibitors told Southern Eye that they had brought goods to exhibit and sell, but could not conduct any cash transactions as local buyers had no hard currency.
Zambian exhibitor, Edith Kanyemba of Timberchase said although the fair went well locals who wanted their products had no foreign currency.
“The only challenge we have is the cash, people want the products, but do not have cash to pay for it. We brought in a lot of products to exhibit and some to sell. We have goods like sugar beans $3 a kg — we brought a lot them, we have peanut butter and its $4 a kg. The people really wanted the products, but what they are telling us is do you accept EcoCash or have swiping machine. We were surprised as we do not have an idea of what they were talking about,” she said.
“Then we had to find out about the swiping machine, we were told that they deduct a certain amount and for us as foreigners that is not feasible. So otherwise people are really interested, especially in the gemstones as you know they are very expensive. One has to pay $50 upwards.”
She said although they faced these challenges, those that wanted to buy in bulk had placed orders.
“That one we have no problem, we have already taken orders. The exhibition has opened more doors for Zimbabwe and Zambia. At least we know we will supply our beans to Zimbabwe,” she said.
Kanyemba said going forward the Zimbabwean government should enable foreign exhibitors to access cash easily.
“In the future, the government of Zimbabwe, as they are organising these shows, should also come up with a system where foreigners like us can easily access cash. As it is, people are interested, but we are going emptyhanded.
“We are here for money and to deliver or carry this, it takes a lot of money. So now going back with it, it means more money is needed. We will talk to our organisers to see how they can work it out. If they cannot find a solution to this, it will be difficult for us to come again,” she said.