Post polls: National consensus key for stability, growth

22 Sep, 2023 - 00:09 0 Views
Post polls: National consensus key for stability, growth Voters stand in a queue

eBusiness Weekly

Business Writers

Some economic observers have challenged the Government to build a national consensus after last month’s harmonised elections amid growing concerns about economic uncertainty and elevated levels of mass political bickering.

President Mnangagwa won 52,6 percent of the presidential vote after beating his main rival Nelson Chamisa of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) who garnered 44 percent of the vote. President Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF party also won more seats in Parliament but without an outright two-thirds majority.

Processes proceeding with the elections, including the inauguration of the President, the swearing-in of vice presidents, Cabinet and Members of the House of Assembly have already been completed and analysts are now challenging the ruling Government to build a strong and inclusive nation.

Equally, the opposition parties need to provide alternative visions and policies and hold the government accountable. Non-state actors such as civil organisations and faith-based organisations are critical entities that should exercise their roles in facilitating policy dialogues on political and socio-economic matters.

In separate interviews, some analysts have called on both the ruling ZANU PF government and the opposition to “de-escalate from the electioneering mood” and get down to business in their respective arenas to ensure the economy starts ticking while uniting the people and reducing mass political polarisation.

In the build-up to the election, the country witnessed a general slowdown in economic activities; the business sentiment was gloomy as the nation developed a wait-and-see attitude on what the election could bring.

Despite modest gains made in the last five years, more still needs to be done if Zimbabwe is to attain sustainable economic growth.

“We call for unity, and political tolerance so that we have an inclusive vibrant nation,” Carlos Tadya, a Harare-based analyst says. “To be frank, no polarised society will ever develop to levels that it desires.

“The election was a Zimbabwean affair meaning no one is superior to the other when it comes to nation-building issues, developmental issues despite who prevailed. Views have to be accommodated and we will prevail as a nation. I heard David Coltart (Bulawayo Mayor) recently saying even though the CCC dominates the Bulawayo council, no stakeholder would be left when it comes to issues to develop the city.

“Surely, this is the kind of approach we need to see in all other councils, in districts, in Parliament, and in Government. All political actors must set aside their differences and speak with one voice; as a nation.”

Tadya said the Government should open the door for business and build a “mutually, beneficial social contract.” “This will help to build a resilient economy and help us to safeguard our currency,” he added.

Economics professor, Gift Mugano, indicated that the country should “de-escalate prevailing tension and harsh political tones” which could potentially stifle the much-needed economic progress.
He said the country needed confidence and post-election cohesion.

“No economy will go forward without de-escalation, dialogue, and national consensus. We still have an election hangover in our midst and that is not good for the economy. Some are still contesting the elections.

“That agitation between the ruling government and the opposition has brought in the interest of other international bodies. As a country, we are setting a risk of international isolation; it is not good for the country.”

Lack of confidence in the Zimbabwean dollar is one of the major underlying sources of turbulence which characterised the local economy in the last five years, an era that saw the local unit shedding value massively compounded by bouts of inflation insurgence. Businesses and individuals continue to face difficulties in planning and processing transactions because of fickle exchange rate movements, particularly on the parallel market.

Analysts say the government should act strongly to curb this menace which might continue to show its ugly head in the economy.

They also insisted that the government should work strongly on resuscitating the value of local currency which has been a victim of recurrent inflation attacks.

Going forward, ballooning money supply, effecting quasi-fiscal activities and pampering of corrupt individuals remain areas of major concern and analysts feel corrupt individuals should be dealt with decisively to build confidence amongst the citizenry.

CEO Africa Roundtable Chairman, Oswell Binha, said the financial sector instability, growing political risk, and challenges in energy supply still pose a threat to sustainable development of business in the Zimbabwean economy and the government should put more effort into curbing such.

He said the country’s economy has been witnessing a declining trend lately with 2022 GDP growth estimated at 3,4 percent a 5, 07 percent decline from the 2021 figure.

“We strongly believe monetary stability remains the cornerstone of stability, particularly as we struggle to deal with legacy issues of value erosion, extraordinarily high corporate mortality rate, higher taxes, death of individual savings, crippling exchange rate regime and high inflation.

“Government must of necessity deal with the evil of unsustainable money supply and lack of fiscal discipline on the part of government. There is also a need to genuinely deal with the boomerang effect of monetary and fiscal debt.

“Zimbabwe also needs to deal decisively with the multidimensional menace of corruption, particularly as the new wave of bureaucratic corruption begins to raise its ugly head, government as is expected should exorcise this demon and this will certainly send a clear message that the country has taken a new path as we prepare for National Development Strategy 2 (NDS),” said Binha.

Binha said government should provide leadership in the engagement between the public and private sector to deal with various issues confronting commerce and the economy as a whole.

He said the government should immediately come clear on the usage of both local and foreign currencies and the state of dedolarisation strategy which was earmarked for completion by 2025.

“Whilst NDS 1 places a 2025 mark cap on the multicurrency regime in Zimbabwe, monetary economists and business sector leadership believe the country is not yet ready for a Zimbabwe dollar mono-currency.”

This comes at a time when the country’s economy continues to face headwinds, threatening the envisioned growth.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive, Christopher Mugaga, indicated that the government should work on improving its performance culture saying a lot of self-introspection was needed to measure what was attained and missed from the NDS 1 targets.

He said authorities should locate gaps and strive to implement what was not realised in the last five years so as to improve the performance culture.

“Now that elections are over it is back to work, we already have the strategy document for the country (National Development Strategy), we do not need to reinvent the wheel, NDS 1 is there, 2023 and 2024 are coming to an end, let’s review it, interrogate our weaknesses improve on that before we move to the NDS 2.

“We need to focus on key areas, we need to look at what NDS is saying about the 2030 upper middle-income economy, there is a target already all we need is to work on it, deliver results, reduce inflation, work hard to make our own currency work, drive out corruption, arrest and prosecute that is what we need,” said Mugaga.

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