Election date uncertainty bad for economy

HARARE - The continued uncertainty surrounding election dates is certainly not good for business and largely the economy.

After years of hyperinflation and economic stagnation, Zimbabwe recorded an incredible growth of over 9,5 percent in 2009.

But now it has regressed to well below five percent amid indications that the figures might be even lower this year due to the looming elections.

Traditionally, Zimbabwe’s elections have been violent, scaring away investors and effectively grounding business to a halt.

Prolonged delay of announcing the election dates worsens the situation. Investors further tighten their purses while business cannot plan.

It is also public knowledge that the country’s economy, which grew significantly in the first two years after dollarisation, began to burn out in 2011 when President Robert Mugabe threatened to unilaterally call for elections.

One would therefore have expected Zanu PF’s quest for an early election — as if it is the magic wand to Zimbabwe’s plethora of socio-economic trials — might result in them implementing all the outstanding reforms, but sadly that is not the case.

We are now approaching the second quarter of 2013 and final election dates are yet to be announced, thus condemning foreign investors to take a-wait-and-see approach until the political environment stabilises.

The continued ill-starred and conflicting utterances on election dates by politicians in the coalition government have made things worse.

Recently, Justice minister, Patrick Chinamasa and his counterpart George Charamba, Mugabe’s spokesperson said elections would be held on June 29, but Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara dismissed the pronouncements.

Mutambara said only principals to the Government of National Unity had the authority to announce election dates after consultations.

Adding on to the confusion, Constitutional Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said elections are only feasible in October, while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka this week said the election roadmap should be in place before the announcement of an election date.

Extended periods of electioneering which the country is under have bred uncertainty, with the business sector continuing to shrink.

For the country to move forward there is need for all parties to agree quickly to an election date so the process can be done once and for all. - Staff Writer

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