News / Africa

    Economists Predict Bleak Future After Mugabe Re-Election

    Traders work at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in Harare, Aug. 6, 2013. The country's stock exchange lost more than $650 million in value after plunging 11 percent on its first trade following the announcement of the country's election results.
    Traders work at the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in Harare, Aug. 6, 2013. The country's stock exchange lost more than $650 million in value after plunging 11 percent on its first trade following the announcement of the country's election results.
    Robert Mugabe's re-election as president of Zimbabwe last week raised concerns for many economists who believe the country's foreign investment will greatly diminish under the 89-year-old's economic policies.

    Those concerns took on greater significance Monday when the nation’s stock market suffered its largest one-day decline since 2009.

    Harare-based economist John Robertson believes the hopes of business leaders there were quashed when Mugabe took a 61 percent majority of votes last Wednesday in a heavily-criticized election.

    Indigenization concerns

    "I believe the whole business sector was very much hoping for a change that would've led to a different political party with different policies," Robertson said. "And so there's a lot of dismay, and a lot of seriously discouraged business people right now who are wondering what step they can take to survive. And those that were contemplating coming here, I believe that every one of them has decided not to."
     
    Robertson expects investment in Zimbabwe to slow as Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party implement further economic policies aimed at handing foreign business interests over to Zimbabweans.

    The party’s signature policy, called indigenization, aims to transfer the majority share of any business operations to black Zimbabweans without financial compensation. Critics of that policy said it also favors Mugabe loyalists.  

    Mugabe's re-election and ZANU-PF's win of two-thirds of parliament seats seem to be a clear mandate for indigenization to proceed at full pace. The Zimbabwe Stock Market's 11 percent decline Monday appeared to verify the predictions by critics of the policy.

    Zimbabwe endured years of economic turmoil, with hyperinflation making the country's currency almost worthless in 2008.

    Economic upswing

    But the economy stabilized after a conversion to the U.S. dollar and the formation of a coalition government between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

    Over the past few years, Zimbabwe's economy grew, expanding at around nine percent in 2010 and 2011, and five percent in 2012.

    Some analysts, however, sid unwise economic policies could hinder such progress.

    Some experts said Zimbabwe could have a vibrant economy if not for its current policies.

    "Without doubt Zimbabwe would be a very much more enticing place," said Azar Jammine, chief economist at the Johannesburg-based consulting firm Econometrix. "It has a very strong mineral sector unlike South Africa…Zimbabwe to some extent could be regarded much more as virgin territory that has not yet fulfilled its full potential by any means both in term of minerals and in terms of agricultural development."

    The political intent to further indigenize industry and commerce in Zimbabwe could scare investors away.

    "For people looking at investing in Zimbabwe, it’s certainly going to be a short sell for now," said George Nicholls, chief executive of the global consulting firm Pasco Risk Management. "If people are invested, they do face the distinct possibility of having to compromise and do deals, local indigenization deals, under pressure of losing assets for little or no return...The prospects facing potential investors are slim to unattractive."
     
    Investment rose after the formation of the coalition government. From 2008 to 2011, foreign direct investment grew from around $50 million to nearly $400 million. But Robertson said now outside companies will not be eager to hand over a 51 percent stake to Zimbabwean shareholders.

    "The new investors are supposed to bring in 100 percent of the capital, provide 100 percent of the technology, take 100 percent of the risk," he said. "And in turn, in five years time, they are to settle for 49 percent of the equity and, of course, pay taxes on that as well … all of this has been enough to say to every investor 'We're just not coming.'"

    Business benefits

    But while some business might be scared off, others could benefit.

    "I would anticipate an in-swing of people who supported ZANU-PF," said Nicholls, "such as Chinese investors, Indian investors, Russians, the BRICS nations in general, will be looking to take up opportunities there on the basis of the support they've rendered to the Zimbabwe government over the past four years."
     
    At this point, however, it is not clear when or how such investment will be forthcoming.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ken Girtz
    August 06, 2013 12:57 PM
    Economists! I recall they predicted Zimbabwe would collapse in 2006. The economy did not collapse although it suffered badly through to 2009 when USD became legal tender and the economic activity stabilised around the currency beyond control of local reserve bank. We have had such predictions on our economy, on our elections and even on life of our President. Some of the predictors actual try to bring about their predictions. We will not counter predict. Instead we will diligently get to work and structure our economy on firm local foundations, for posterity. Those willing to work with us are welcome and I challenge these economists to find better returns on funds invested elsewhere in the world. Smart money to Harare!

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora