With seven days to go until Zimbabwe’s elections, businesses there are in a state of limbo and analysts predict that will last as long as the uncertainty about the country’s future, according to a report in AllAfrica.
Election periods have had a severe impact on businesses because of a general reluctance to trade in and with Zimbabwe, economic analyst Masimba Kuchera told Zimbabwe’s SW Radio Africa. This reluctance has grown because of politics that directly influence business.
The much-awaited vote in Zimbabwe will likely end the uncomfortable power-sharing government between President Robert Mugabe and his archrival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, formed four years as part of a plan to end political bloodshed, TimesLive reports.
In an effort to steward a credible Zimbabwe election, South African President Jacob Zuma headinged up a mediation team to Zimbabwe from the 15-country Southern Africa Development Community.
Mugabe has in the past threatened to pull out of the development community.
“(Zimbabwe) is an import-based economy and that would result in higher tariffs being placed on goods,” Kuchera said. “So this instills fear in local businesses because they’d be trading on an unlevel ground.”
Business owners are trying to make plans to accommodate the voting rights of their employees. Kuchera said it’s likely most businesses will close or run a skeleton staff on polling day. Whatever the plan, elections are not good for businesses, he said.
Businesses in Zimbabwe will also need to prepare for violence and chaos after the elections. “We might not be expecting any but like any sane business person will say, this is not the time to only hope for the best. You also need to plan for the worst,” Kuchera said.
Zimbabwe’s political future and stability in the business sector are closely linked, he added.
“We have seen companies closing, some scaling down and some on hold while they wait for the outcome of the elections. It is clear that there are people who want to do business with and in Zimbabwe, but they are waiting for stability and certainty,” Kuchera said.
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