ZIMBABWE’S industries this week called for a peaceful post-election period, as they made a passionate plea to frontrunners in the presidential poll to concede defeat and help the country focus on rebuilding an economy that has struggled for decades.
Zanu-PF’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa were frontrunners in last week’s polls.
In interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent, captains of the country’s industries said an important factor towards guaranteeing economic stability was an acknowledgement by losing parties that they have been beaten, and their ability to embrace the winner.
Industry leaders said acknowledgement was vital for driving back waning investor confidence, and opening the floodgates for opportunities across the economy.
Rebuilding the economy was an important part of leaders’ campaign messages ahead of this week’s polls, with CCC undertaking to expand Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP) to US$100 billion, from about US$30 billion currently.
CCC also undertook to create about five million jobs within five years.
Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF did not produce an election manifesto.
But he reminded voters about the significant infrastructure revamp that government has executed since he came into power in 2018.
Business leaders said the three things that occupied their minds as unofficial results from Wednesday’s polls started coming through social media were stability, post-election development and the prevalence of a climate that drives foreign direct investment (FDI).
They said FDI should be supported by policies that help investors generate profit.
Kipson Gundani, executive director at CEO Africa Roundtable said already, business had noted that Mnangagwa and his rival were promising to deal with problems that have held back growth.
Mnangagwa’s five year term was marked by double and triple digit inflation rates, a fragile currency which depreciated by over 600% within the first four months of this year, interest rates of up to 200% and foreign currency shortages.
Zimbabwe’s public debt spiralled to US$18 billion last year, which makes up over 50% of the country’s GDP.
Treasury says investment of at least US$40 billion would be required for Zimbabwe to reach its targeted upper middle-income economy by 2030.
The Zimbabwe dollar has crawled back in the past two months, giving authorities confidence that GDP will increase by 5,3% this year.
Business leaders and experts said much of this will depend on the environment that Zimbabwe will create.
“What we want is an outcome that ushers in stability,” Gundani told the Independent.
“We want an outcome that brings development policies so that people will be able to invest and make money. Economies thrive during periods of peace.
“Consensus building is necessary for this country. An election gives us an opportunity to build that consensus by being able to find each other, to know that election is just a contest of ideas and popularity.
“But our lives have to go on. If you look at what the current government has been doing and what the opposition has been proposing, there is one common theme, which is to rebuild Zimbabwe,” he added.
Speaking a day after the polls, Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said business was looking forward to continued peace.
“We are satisfied with a violence-free environment obtaining across the country,” Mutashu said.
“Political parties and their supporters should continue with the peace gospel,” he added, acknowledging Mnangagwa’s call for peace during his campaign trail.
Thomas Gono, president of the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, exhibited how out of touch with reality the US$12 billion industry was.
He told the Independent polls had nothing to do with mining.
“I think this (elections) have nothing to do with mining, nothing whatsoever,” Gono said.
“We are just focused on mining.”
Shadreck Makombe, president of the Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union, said farmers were expecting the post-election administration to come up with relevant policies to expand output in the US$8 billion sector.
Agriculture is one of Zimbabwe’s key sectors, along with mining, manufacturing and tourism.
“What we are looking for are policies that help us do the best for the country,” he said.
“If we look at our current situation, we need to enhance irrigation because the rainfall pattern is quite tricky. At the same time, we need experts in order to save and protect water.
“Given this situation, I would want to believe what will determine the best policy going forward is (how we respond to) the climate, the weather. What farmers need is to have affordable inputs and to have markets,” he said.
In an interview with our sister paper, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer Chris Mugaga said: “We need the investors. No investor will put his money in a country with uncertainty”.
Source – The Standard