Business, Govt bury hatchet

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Sifelani Jabangwe

Africa Moyo
As the nation keenly awaits judgment in the electoral petition filed by MDC Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa, there is a refreshing development noted from the July 30 harmonised polls.

Chief Justice Luke Malaba reserved judgment at the close of presentation of heads of arguments by legal representatives of the applicant and respondents, but promised to deliver the verdict today (Friday) at 2pm.

But market watchers say the absence of wanton price increases in the build-up to this year’s watershed elections, in stark contrast to the situation that prevailed in previous elections, is a suggestion that business and Government have finally found each other.   

In the last two decades, former President Robert Mugabe would fight running battles with retailers and manufacturers as he sought to force them reduce prices.

In the worst case, the previous administration would introduce price controls to tame galloping prices.

This would in turn lead manufacturers to under-produce or hide products to avoid selling at “a loss”.

But the fact that basic goods are readily available in shops at prices that obtained during the run-up to the elections, with marginal price increases recorded recently, being attributable largely to foreign currency shortages which have resulted in parallel market dealers charging a premium on foreign currency.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has drawn up a foreign currency priority list which targets key sectors such as fuel importation and the sourcing of crude oil for cooking oil expressers.

Business Weekly understands that industrialists now have confidence in the ability of the Zanu-PF Government to transform the economy, especially if the Constitutional Court rules in the party’s favour.

This follows a raft of measures introduced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa since November 24 last year when he was inaugurated.

Industrialists are hopeful that the outcome of the electoral challenge will not negatively impact on their operations, particularly in light of the achievements recorded in the last nine months.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Sifelani Jabangwe, told Business Weekly that business should “continue doing our business because the general structure of Government continues to operate”.

Jabangwe’s sentiments follow constitutional provisions, which dictate that ministers remain in their portfolios if the President who appointed them into office wins the election.

Although the Constitution provides in section 143(1) that “Parliament stands dissolved at midnight on the day before the first polling day in the next general election”, ministers only lose their jobs when a new person, not the incumbent, wins the poll.

Ministers also lose their portfolios when the one who appointed them to office is sworn-in after an election.

With the swearing-in of a new President yet to take place on account of the electoral petition, all ministers have been attending to their duties.

Industry, Commerce and Enterprise Development Minister Dr Mike Bimha, recently attended the Sadc Summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, in his capacity as minister.

Similarly, Dr Joram Gumbo was also in Gweru last Friday to tour the Fort Concrete plant, which is seen as critical to the revival of the National Railways of Zimbabwe.

Jabangwe said it was imperative that business continues to operate, without regard to the court case.

“In the meantime, as private sector, we must continue to do business and as the CZI, we are actually working on an agenda that we want the next Government to take into consideration,” said Jabangwe.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) chief executive officer Takunda Mugaga, also said his members were continuing with business as usual, adding that they hope the court verdict will provide for the continuation of the ground covered by President Mnangagwa’s administration since November last year.

Mugaga said any suggestions that delays in inaugurating a new president was impacting on business are “exaggerated”.

“I don’t think there is any problem at all. If there is, then I think it is exaggerated. Of course as a nation, we are trapped in a wait-and-see-attitude but I don’t think the delays are affecting anything because the confidence is there in the market.

“There is also expectation in the market that the status quo (President Mnangagwa) is going to be maintained,” said Mugaga.

Political parties that participated in the July 30 elections fronted economic development in their manifestos, and it is expected that whatever outcome from the Constitutional Court will result in the winner pushing for such reforms.

In the last eight months when he was finishing off former president Robert Mugabe’s term, President Mnangagwa set out Vision 2030 under which he would create more decent jobs for ordinary citizens and turn the country into a middle income earner.

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