Election talk worries business

Continued talk about impending elections in Zimbabwe could turn away much needed investment, business executives have said.

"When we continue to talk about elections, we scare away investment," said David Govere, President of the Zimbabwe Business Council (ZBC), in Harare. "The last time we had elections, they were a disaster’’.

A presidential poll runoff in June 2008 was marked by widespread violence that resulted in the death of at least 4 000 people when Zanu (PF) embarked on a military style campaign to cow supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.

Tsvangirai had beaten current President, Robert Mugabe in an earlier poll in March of the same year, but withdrew from the re-run citing voter intimidation and systematic rigging.

Because of the controversial poll that President Mugabe won as a sole candidate, Zanu (PF) was forced into a coalition government in early 2009, sharing power with Tsvangirai and the smaller MDC now led by Welshman Ncube.

The media has also been blamed for fanning uncertainty through sensational reporting.

"When we drive into town from home, we see so many disturbing headlines from our newspapers," said Gibson Chigumira, Chief Executive Officer of Zimbabwe Economic Policy Analysis Research Unit (Zeparu).

"Our media does not do us any good by having such alarming headlines, especially about elections. This could turn away much needed investment. Journalists must not be negative all the time," he added.

Zanu (PF) hardliners and President Robert Mugabe have vowed that elections will be held this year, with or without a new constitution that is currently being crafted before it is presented for a referendum.

The MDC and civil society, however, prefer the holding of elections after a new supreme law has been adopted, and have also demanded electoral and media reforms as preconditions for the next general polls.

Govere fired a broadside at the Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac), comprising MDC-T, MDC-N and Zanu (PF), that is steering the constitution making process.

"This Copac business is also affecting us," said Govere in an interview. "The parties seem to be confused and there are so many contradictions in Copac."

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