THE business sector has been left counting its losses, running possibly into millions of dollars after last week’s disturbances which left at least six people dead, scores injured as well as the destruction of property.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
Zimbabwe’s administrative and commercial capital, Harare, was closed as the dispute escalated over the presidential poll result, which declared President Emmerson Mnangagwa winner in a close election against his closest rival, main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.
Harare central business district was largely shut down, with shops, banks and offices closed following last week’s violent protests which resulted in the military killing six people, among them opposition activists, in cold blood.
According to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), at least 22 shops were damaged as a result of the skirmishes.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe president Matthew Chimbghandha said business is reeling from the losses incurred from last week’s unrest.
“Business has been affected greatly especially in the CBD in terms of trading,’’ Chimbghandha said. “The CBD was affected not just for a day and the impact was heavily negative.”
He said although he could not put a figure to the total value of property and business lost through the disturbances, it was massive. “We need to trade in peaceful conditions. I think it will have a negative effect on investment,” Chimbghandha said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers president Denford Mutashu said the losses from last week could run into millions of dollars.
“The exact value is still being quantified including loss of business. Our experts are still on the ground to quantify the losses,” Mutashu said. “Loss of business due to forced closures runs into millions of dollars collectively. Such deliberate acts of plunder, theft and forced closures of business are condemned and have no place in modern society. It is archaic.”
He added that the retail sector has been forced to bear the brunt of such skirmishes adding that some shops are still to recover from previous episodes of unrest that left a trail of destruction. One industrialist said
investors are likely to baulk at bringing in money in a country where soldiers can fire live bullets at unarmed civilians.
“How will investors bring money into a country where soldiers open fire on civilians,” he said. “Yes we can say that the demonstrators were violent but I do not see how one can justify soldiers using live ammunition to address civil unrest. What message does it send to the outside world when soldiers fire indiscriminately at unarmed civilians? This must completely stop.”