Zim citizens hope for the best
Impoverished people pin their hopes on elections
ZIMBABWE goes into its much-anticipated election tomorrow in a worsening economy best illustrated by currency traders that line every street in the capital and supermarket doorsteps littered by vendors selling illegally imported goods.
Citizens who continue to battle with cheaper goods and disposable incomes have pinned their hopes on the election, which will see the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa pitted against young lawyer and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
Companies have closed shop, with workers struggling for survival with delayed and half salaries.
Electricity supply is also regularly interrupted while infrastructure development has taken a back seat.
Mnangagwa has promised a new era of open economic policies aimed at attracting investments and restoring relations with the international community and other fund holders.
Chamisa, on the other hand, argues that Mnangagwa cannot bring any respite for Zimbabwe’s long-standing and deep-rooted economic mess. Chamisa charges that Mnangagwa was part of the previous administration under former leader Robert Mugabe, whose policies are blamed for driving down Zimbabwe’s once vibrant economy.
Economist and Round Table chief executive Kipson Gundani says business leaders are worried about the state of the economy.
“The economic environment is seemingly better than it was but a major worry is the currency mix we have because we don’t know what currency we are using,” said Gundani.
“Companies have bank balances that are legal but these funds are not accessible and this brings in volatility in terms of planning and certainty for company executives.” Businesses, especially those in production, are bearing the brunt of the currency woes as they have to pay a premium of up to 60 percent to get greenback with their bank deposits. Most rely on imported equipment and raw materials.
This has had a knock-on effect on prices and inflation.
Industrialists say prices have increased despite the central bank’s charge that the quasi currency bond notes have equal value to the US dollar.
Talk of adopting the rand has been rebuffed by the government, although the opposition says it will adopt it if voted into power.
Former finance minister Tendai Biti, who is working with Chamisa, says the economic outlook is bleak under the current administration, with GDP growth expected to be in the negative.
“We are talking of -2 percent in terms of GDP growth for this year.
“The finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) is the worst minister in the world and this government has failed this economy, they cant run this economy,” Biti told Business Report by phone from Harare.
Chinamasa, however, is upbeat about his projections, saying that measures undertaken by the government, such as partially addressing the indigenisation policy, will boost GDP growth.
He has also flagged that Zimbabwe has signed various investment pacts with investors but experts say hard cash may only flow in after the elections when there is certainty to the political risk framework.
“I projected 4.5 percent growth and consider that conservative in the light of the measures we’ve taken,” said Chinamasa.
“It’s clear that we are going to achieve at least 6 percent growth this year. Much of the environment which investors were complaining about has been corrected.”
Supporters of Nelson Chamisa, head of the MDC opposition alliance, carry the Zimbabwean flag while attending his rally in Chitungwiza, about 30km east of the capital Harare on Thursday. Chamisa addressed his first rally since rejecting the idea of...