Victoria Ruzvidzo In Focus
Zimbabwe is now in an election period following Wednesday’s proclamation by President Mnangagwa that the plebiscite will be on July 30. Previously, such pronouncements would have triggered trepidation and a lot of uncertainty economy-wide.
But what we find curious and exciting this time around is that, unlike in other years when business would be mourning about sliding into the red and the balance sheet not balancing because of an impending election, the story is actually different.
The correlation that has been there in the past is of a bad election run-up and a climate of mistrust that left the economy stuttering. Foreign investors would not want to hear about spending a dime on Zimbabwe, tourists would be fearing for their lives while multilateral and bilateral lenders would raise the risk factor on this country.
Many countries would issue travel warnings against Zimbabwe and news dominating the media space would largely be negative.
Even at family and individual level, a lot would be put in abeyance in anticipation of a bad election period that left people sitting on the edge. But the Zimbabwean story has changed.
The new dispensation has brought with it a lot of new trends, new targets and a completely new way of doing things.
Industry is not worried of any slide in performance between now and July 30. Individual companies are actually planning investments, retooling and engaging in a variety of expansion mechanisms. Previously they would all be saying we are waiting for the outcome of the elections, we cannot inject funds because we do not know what the outcome will be like.
We have also seen potential investors coming in droves to position themselves strategically for the post-election era. Some from China, Europe, the Middle East and other such markets are already keen to partake in the country’s economic renaissance. The bulk of the $11 billion investments approved already are now at various stages of finalisation. The fact that elections are on in two months is something that does not worry them. In fact, it has given many the impetus to achieve.
Local firms such as Econet Wireless, Delta Corporation, Sakunda Holdings, Caps Holdings are optimistic and going about their business. In fact, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, which is sensitive to any positive or negative news, has remained unperturbed by the election season we are in.
For the record, market capitalisation has breached the $15 billion mark, the highest since dollarisation in 2009.
There is so much activity going on in the economy and this will yield results. Indeed, the economy cannot afford to go on pause, rewind or slow motion. If anything, all hands need to be on deck in terms of injecting more life. President Mnangagwa has not had a second to waste in this regard and we can all take a cue from him.
The economy has to usher in a better standard of living for the people, so focus should be on the goals and objectives that we have set ourselves to achieve as a country. Campaigning is critical but it should be within the confines of delivering a better Zimbabwe.
All candidates, whether Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance or from any of the 128 or so presidential hopefuls, should have the welfare of Zimbabwe uppermost in their minds. There is no need for destructive or self-defeatist strategies bent on scaring away investors or unsettling the economy or the country at large.
There is definitely no need for lies, sins of commission or omission or any such behaviour that could be harmful to the country but all should be guided by the need to get the country out of its present challenges.
Campaign strategies should not seek to leave the country in ruins as candidates and parties seek to outdo each other to endear themselves to the electorate and the international community.
The beauty of it this time is that the wrong perception about Zimbabwe is fast changing this time around and no amount of rubbishing will erase the stature that this country has assumed over the last few months.
For the voters, the candidates and the parties they represent, Zimbabwe is the only place we call home and we should all desire to protect our homeland and work for its prosperity before, during and after elections.
Zimbabwe is not a violent country, hence peace should be a currency that helps us attract investment, tourists and other goodies available on the global market.
So we need to guard against reckless statements and actions meant to destroy where others are building.
We do not need to narrate the challenges this economy has been experiencing over the last few decades. They are in black and white and all the colours we can fathom. The critical issue being that we should all endeavour to remedy the situation and put the economy back on track.
Cash queues, poor infrastructure, high bank charges, low exports, low productivity levels, use of obsolete equipment in factories, high imports and other such challenges will not go away through mere wishful thinking but the situation demands working hard, working smart and doing all we can within our respective spheres of influence to redress the challenges.
Elections are obviously about bread and butter issues. But more importantly, elections are about a better tomorrow and this can only be achieved if we make the right decisions today in all our conduct.
Zimbabwe has remained on its feet despite challenges and the last few months have brought hope and confidence that a brighter tomorrow is no longer a fallacy but a real possibility. The onus is on all of us to ensure we live the reality.
Posterity demands that we make sustainable use of our natural resources to hand over a better country in which future generations will prosper. There should be no gambling in this regard.
However, in all this discourse we should not lose sight of the fact that there are indeed investors and other interested parties sitting on the fence, waiting to see what happens during and after the elections.
They are waiting to see how the elections will be conducted and what the post-election period will be like. The outcome will then determine whether or not they will pour in funds into the economy.
This means the country will need to be at its best behaviour throughout the process so that we attract the capital that we so much need.
While parties are indeed preoccupied with elections, Government should proceed with its work while the private sector needs to spearhead economic activities.
No acts of sabotage are expected from any well-meaning and sober Zimbabwean. When democracy is at play, it remains to individuals, singularly or collectively, to make the right choices and actions in a responsible manner.
Elections are upon us indeed and these should take Zimbabwe forward not backwards. The mood so far is one of unity and progress except isolated cases and individuals who are quite excitable about the plebiscite. Let’s all work together to ensure the post-July 30 Zimbabwe emerges the victor.
In God I Trust!