Pre-election anxiety grips business


Captains of industry say anxiety that has gripped the country is causing business uncertainty as focus turns to polls.

Zimbabwe is expected to go into polls in the second half of this year amid economic turmoil that has seen prices of basic commodities going up beyond the reach of many and run away exchange rate ravaging an already ailing economy.

This week, the Zimbabwe dollar was trading at between ZWL$3 500 and ZWL$4 000 per US$1 on the informal market from ZWL$1 800 per dollar a month ago.

On the formal market, the Zimbabwe dollar was trading at ZWL$1 888 per US$1 this week from ZWL$944.71 per US$1 at the beginning of April.

Government has accused businesses of sabotaging the economy to force a regime change. Business, on the other hand, is blaming poor and inconsistent government policies.

“The election season in Zimbabwe is upon us and will dominate an operating environment that is faced with numerous economic challenges,” the country’s biggest brewer Delta Corporation board chairman Sternford Moyo said.

Board chairperson of listed property investment and development company Mashonaland Holdings, Grace Bema weighed in saying: “…The ensuing harmonised elections in 2023 may have a negative impact on the speedy economic recovery in the short term.”

BridgeFort Capital Limited CEO, Vernon Lapham, said uncertainty increases when elections beckon.

“As we move closer to elections the operating environment becomes more uncertain and the chances of us concluding a transaction before the end of August are low,” Lapham said.

“We do however remain focused on our objectives and will continue to pursue acquisition targets even if this is largely transaction groundwork leading up to elections.”

He said over the past six weeks or so, the parallel market rate has moved considerably to unsustainable levels for businesses.

An economist who preferred anonymity said the government was printing cash to bankroll election campaigns.

“I am surprised that the government is blaming the business for hiking the prices but it has bought top-of-the-range vehicles for its election campaign and where did it get money?

“The authorities were said to be in the market to get US$ between April and May and this must have pushed the exchange rate up.

“What businesses are just trying to survive the onslaught of excessive spending by the authorities and they are threatened for sustaining their operations,” the economist said.

Judging on previous elections, polls in Zimbabwe are characterised with chaos, political violence and the outcome usually disputed.



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