Exhibitors participating at this year’s Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) yesterday said lack of tight security at the annual showcase was hindering the growth of the once-prestigious festival.
Speaking to NewsDay, Nigerian exhibitor Uche Ogbuji said the major difficulty they were facing was that they have to carry books from their stands back to the Hotel rooms daily because they could not leave them overnight due to lack of security.
“This is a big event and it should be organised better than this. There should be at least a secure roof or offices where we can ensure the security of our books,” said Ogbuji.
“Just imagine the hustle that we have to go through every day when we carry our books to and from our hotel rooms. It is tiresome and this just takes the hype away from what is supposed to be a perfect event.”
A local exhibitor echoed similar sentiments saying they have to carry their exhibition materials back to their offices for overnight safety.
“It is quite a cumbersome process. I know the festival is facing challenges, but they should put measures in place to ensure safety. Our material is expensive and we cannot risk leaving it here when we are not certain it will be safe,” said the exhibitor.
ZIBF chairperson Musayemura Zimunya admitted that there had been cases in the past where exhibitors lost their wares, but said they had warned all exhibitors to this year’s edition to bring lockable trunks that are safe for overnight material storage.
“Exhibitors were told to bring trunks, but some brought cardboard boxes which are not safe. We have enough security to guard the venue throughout the festival, but it is possible to lose material that would be left in cardboard boxes in some circumstances,” said Zimunya.
“The problem is not general and I think individual exhibitors making such complains did not adhere to the conditions of the festival.
“Most exhibitors are leaving their material safely kept in trunks at their stands.”
Meanwhile, another ZIBF official, Stephen Chifunyise said buyers were complaining about high prices of books.
“We have had complains from many schools concerning the pricing of books. However, there is need for government departments to come on board and (we will then) do our level best to maintain lower prices of our literature,” said Chifunyise.
“If we first deal with the pricing, then we are assured of meeting the demand on the market and ensure affordability mainly to university and school students.”
Chifunyise said the turnout at this year’s festival was likely to be low since schools had closed.
“Over the years we have had schools closing after the book fair and this helped us in co-ordinating their participation. Now that schools closed earlier, we are without doubt going to witness a challenge in terms of the turnout.
“At the same time our market will not be affected much because we are going to have lecturers, librarians and even university students coming in to purchase books directly from us,” he added.