FIFTY-TWO percent of Zimbabweans believe the country’s economy is performing badly, citing lack of employment opportunities, personal financial difficulties, high cost of living and unaffordable commodity prices as some of the indicators of economic problems, while it is heading for recession.
According to a survey on Local Government and Constitutionalism done by International Republican Institute (IRI) Africa Division, 52% of Zimbabweans say the economy is bad while 41% think it is very bad and 19% fairly bad compared with only 23% who rate it as good.
The survey sampled 1 215 respondents aged 18 years and above with, 720 in urban areas and 480 in rural areas in all the country’s 10 provinces from December 2014 to January this year with the objective of developing a more comprehensive picture of citizen priority issues.
“The urban populace rated it more critically than did their rural counterparts, with 41% of the former and 30% of the latter stating it to be in a very bad way. It is interesting that they rated their overall living conditions more favourably than they did economy with over half of the population stating that it was either very good (4%), fairly good (27%) or neither good or bad (23%) and with differences between respondents in rural and urban areas being minor,” the report says.
Respondents from Bulawayo (42%) believe the economy would deteriorate in the coming year than did those in Harare (33%).
Zimbabweans living in rural areas believed Zimbabwe is headed in the right direction while urbanites believe the opposite is true.
The report states: “While increased access to commodities and to education along with declining political violence and increased harmony and financial stability from the ongoing use of the multi-currency regime were the main indicators of optimism among Zimbabweans, the lack of job opportunities (52%) and one’s own personal financial situation (33%) coupled with the high price of goods (22%) and increasing level of corruption (21%) were the most common anxieties exhibited by those who felt pessimistic about the direction the country was headed.”
Other reasons given by those who say Zimbabwe is headed in the wrong direction are depression in the business sector (15%), declining disposable incomes and the poor economy (14%) and political leadership dispute (14%), among other reasons.
In the survey, democracy emerged as definitely more important (40%) than prosperity for both respondents in the rural and urban areas.
“By province, those based in Matabeleland South and in Manicaland favoured democracy over prosperity to a greater degree (58% and 57% respectively) than did those in other provinces. Respondents in Mashonaland West were the least inclined to 35% versus 46% who favoured prosperity,” the report says.
However, 51% of the 18-24-year-olds favoured prosperity over democracy.