CONTROVERSY surrounds the presentation of the seventh edition of the Swakopmund International Trade Expo (SWAITEX) early in October after the national executive of the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) has taken over the reins of the event.
The expo is the brainchild of the Swakopmund branch of the NCCI and since its inception has grown from strength to strength through strong partnerships forged with the business community of coastal towns.
The chairman of the NCCI Swakopmund branch, Paul Ndjambula said that the executive committee of the branch opted to postpone this year’s event until 2020 because of the current economic downturn in the country and because of the interference from the NCCI national head office which took the initiative out of their hands.
“The decision was taken because of undue interference by the secretariat at the NNCI Head Office because of number of unresolved issues which caused delays, preventing the branch from making the necessary arrangements to host the world class expo as it did in the past six years,” Ndjambula said
The Chief Executive Officer of the NCCI, Charity Mwiya, last week went ahead and announced that the expo will continue as it did in previous years adding that the expo theme this year, “Promoting Intra-Regional Trade and Economic Integration”.
“This year marks a very crucial milestone for us as an organisation. SWAITEX is now a national and international event as per the strategic planning retreat held by the NCCI Secretariat earlier in the year,” she said.
She said the NCCI has managed to engage many of its national corporate members who have generously come on board either as sponsors or resource experts to add more value to the vision of making SWAITEX the NCCI’s premier international event.
Ndambula said that the official launch of the event has been left too late which means that almost no promotion would be possible. He said that the usual sponsors of SWAITEX were left in the dark for to long which could sour relationships fostered over years.
“As a branch, we cannot support this new plan from head office. They plan to reduce the number of exhibitors and this will be bad for the expo, its loyal exhibitors and the public. We do not want to risk doing lasting harm to the good brand that the branch has built over years with a hastily arranged event,” Ndjambula said.
He said allegations made during the official launch in Windhoek that money went missing are unsubstantiated.
“The reality is that the expo ran at a loss in the beginning. These losses were absorbed by the sponsors and the funds we accumulated each year before each expo. We got to a stage where we started to break even and last year we showed a small profit.”
Ndjambula said every cent of the profit was accounted for.