ZIMBABWE’S economic prospects look gloomier as the country races towards 2018 elections that are likely to be marred by violence, Centre for Public Engagement director, Samukele Hadebe has said.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Making his presentation at the Pledge Conversations Series held in Bulawayo on Wednesday under the topic: Political Economic Analysis of 2018 Elections, Hadebe said 2018 elections were likely to stifle economic growth due to violence.
“But one may ask whether 2018 elections are set to restore credibility in our system and processes which is needed for business confidence and foreign direct investment? Unfortunately, the answer is on the negative,” he said.
“Already the partisan squabbles on procurement of biometric voter registration kits and calls for electoral reforms have muddied the waters as political parties are spoiling for a repeat of disputed electoral outcome come 2018.”
“The crescendo of shrills of protest is so high such that the potential economic implications of disputed electoral outcomes have been consigned to the periphery. While elections are generally a site of contestation, the unresolved governance issues continue to bleed the economy and exacerbating the fragility of democratic transition ushered by the Constitution passed in 2013”.
Hadebe said Zimbabwe approaches the 2018 elections against a background of declining economic performance marked by restricted fiscal space, massive informalisation of the economy, de-industrialisation, high unemployment rates and a hugely unbalanced export versus import bill.
He said the country has performed dismally in attracting foreign direct investment and struggles in debt clearance.
“If as Zimbabweans we have capacity to learn at least something from history, then we should have long realised that Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes have directly plunged commensurate with disputed electoral outcomes, notably in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013,” he said.
“Logically, 2018 elections should not and must not continue the negative trend. Responsible stakeholders would not allow a conduct of elections that result in a loss-loss to all Zimbabweans. If we pursue that logic of rational stakeholders then the forthcoming 2018 elections should ideally reverse the negative trend”.
According to reports, close to $1 billion was funnelled from Zimbabwe’s banking sector to offshore accounts in the run-up to the July 31, 2013 general elections as political uncertainty gripped the economy, worsening liquidity conditions in the market.
Analysts say the pre-election period is characterised by populist policies which will affect the economy in the long run.