By Sij Ncube
Bulawayo, August 15, 2013 – Potential investors are adopting a wait-and-see-attitude in the wake of Zimbabwe’s disputed election outcome amid fears the on-going court challenge in which outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is contesting President Robert Mugabe’s controversial victory could further slowdown economic growth.
Mugabe’s victory over Tsvangirai with whom he formed a coalition government credited for putting some brakes on the economic crisis of 2008 has already sent jitters in the economy and concern that a Zanu PF dominant government relishes to introduce the discarded Zimbabwe dollar and the intensification of seizures of foreign owned firms.
Mugabe, aged 89 years, polled 61 percent of the total votes cast during the July 31 harmonised polls against Tsvangirai’s 33 percent but the MDC-T leader has rejected the outcome claiming the election was fundamentally flawed, citing allegations of rigging and manipulation of the voters’ roll.
Business, industry and commerce executives fear the contested election result and the consequential political stalemate could have adverse effects in a fragile economy and might further reverse the economic gains attained during the five-year lifespan of the coalition government.
Zanu PF has indicated it wants to escalate its indigenisation and so-called black economic empowerment policies driven by politburo member, Savior Kasukuwere, specifically targeting the seizure of foreign owned banks.
According to its election manifesto, the party which according to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission won a two-thirds majority in Parliament is targeting indigenising 1 138 companies valued at $14.3 billion.
Some of the foreign owned banks targeted for confiscation include Standard Chartered, Barclays, Ecobank, Stanbic and MBCA, a unit of South Africa’s Nedbank which together account for a 70 percent-plus market share.
John Robertson, a Harare-based economic analyst, said the election stalemate would most likely delay decision-making on the much-needed foreign direct investment, amid other business transactions that have a bearing on the country’s economic recovery.
“The investment process is being delayed because of the disputed election results. Investors will wait until everything is finalised with regards to the election results,” he added.
Tsvangirai’s bid to force the Registrar General of Voters’ to release all election material used during the disputed polls, particularly the voters’ roll, suffered a setback on Wednesday when the High Court indefinitely reserved judgment.
The Constitutional Court has also indicated it would hear Tsvangirai’s election petition against Mugabe’s victory on Saturday in which the MDC-T leader wants a re-run of the election to be held within 60 days from the granting of the court order.
But Robertson said the disputed election process was further weighing down investor confidence and this will delay economic recovery.
Critics of Mugabe note that industry is in doldrums largely due to lack of investment with regional and international financiers adopting a wait and see attitude due the uncertainty surrounding the election outcome.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Charles Msipa, said that although the operating environment was not ideal for business due to the disputed election results, it was appropriate that all processes as provided by the constitution be followed to end the stalemate.
“Democracy comes with a price so as industry that is the price we have to pay. What MDC-T is doing is according to law as provided by the constitution so we have to wait until everything is finalised,” said Msipa.