Africa Moyo Business Reporter
INDUSTRIALISTS have expressed concern over the political violence that gripped the country on Wednesday, saying it was a step in the wrong direction at a time the country has embarked on a massive growth trajectory since December last year.
Opposition supporters torched vehicles, destroyed shops, looted vendors’ wares and abused other citizens who did not want to participate in the violent demonstration.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Mr Sifelani Jabangwe told our sister paper Business Weekly that political parties should resort to legal means to resolve electoral disputes, instead of destroying property.
“Political party leaders should ensure that their followers are kept informed of the correct things. When things like this (violence) happen, they disrupt business at a time when we want to separate politics from business.
“We had hoped that as a country, we had moved from the violence that characterised the campaign periods in the past. Every five years, business had suffered due to pre-election political violence,” said Mr Jabangwe.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive officer Takunda Mugaga also said it was astonishing that the country would be plunged into the dastard and cowardly acts of Wednesday after voting.
“This election has to be celebrated because it was peaceful. In the past, violence would be witnessed in the run-up to elections.
“Events of yesterday (Wednesday) are very regrettable particularly when all international media channels are in Zimbabwe and the message they are now fronting is that of human rights abuses, which is not right,” said Mugaga.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Denford Mutashu also called for tolerance among political parties.
“The lack of tolerance has led to these barbaric acts. People must accept the results and stop trying to subvert the will of the people,” said Mr Mutashu.
“Violence reverses the gains we have recorded in the last eight months of trying to promote peace in the country and opening up our country to investment and promoting democracy.
“I don’t understand why opposition politicians held that press conference to incite violence.”
However, industrialists have called for restraint in dealing with demonstrators, and not be “heavy-handed”.
Considering that Government had delivered a violence free election as part of efforts to show that Zimbabwe has turned a leaf since November 24 when President Mnangagwa was sworn in, industrialists expected the country to remain a magnet for international capital riding on pro-business laws and a tranquil environment.
The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) said in the six months to June this year, the country recorded $16 billion worth of investment approvals as investors gave a thumbs-up to economic reforms introduced by President Mnangagwa’s administration. But industry and business remain seized with turning around the economy despite the chaos caused by opposition elements.
Mr Mugaga said: “Now that elections are over, we want to start rebuilding the economy. We have already lost a lot of time as a country in the past bickering and we want to redevelop our economy.
“We are looking beyond the election and channel our efforts towards nation building.”
Mr Jabangwe shares the same sentiments.
“Our message is that the economy should grow. Political parties had election manifestos that spoke about growing business in the country. We want to ensure that the economy grows from now on,” said Mr Jabangwe.
Retailers also said they remain “hopeful” about the future.
For more read our sister paper Business Weekly.