BMI Research, a Fitch think-tank, has warned of prolonged social unrest and slow pace of economic reforms owing to the disputed outcome of polls held last month in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared winner.
By Tinashe Kairiza
Mnangagwa, who rose to power last year following a de facto millitary coup that toppled long time ruler Robert Mugabe, polled 50,8% of the vote while his closest rival MDC Alliance candidate Nelson Chamisa polled 44,3% of the ballot. Chamisa said he will challenge the election outcome at the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).
In January,BMI had projected that Zimbabwe’s economy would register an impressive streak of growth, peaking to US$20,4 billion in 2022 from US$16,9 billion in 2019, buoyed by the departure of Mugabe and the ascendency of Mnangagwa, who is viewed as a reformist and a pro-business leader, to power. The United Kingdom-based research think-tank also projected that Zimbabwe’s year-on-year economic growth rate would average 4% from 2019 to 2022.
However, the disputed poll outcome, whose aftermath saw six people killed by the millitary and dozen others injured in violent protests that rocked the southern African country’s capital, would dampen economic growth prospects, BMI cautioned in its latest report.
“With the opposition criticising the results as fraudulent, several international observers highlighting irregularities with the conduct of the election and violent clashes between the protestors and national security forces, we see some risk that the election fails to offer Zimbabwe a fresh start.
“Unrest following the release of partial results from Zimbabwe’s July 30 general election suggests rising risks to the country’s ability to emerge from decades of isolation and enact structural economic reforms,” warned the research think-tank in its latest report on the southern African country.
Earlier this year, BMI projected that Zimbabwe’s economy would gradually emerge from the woods, after decades of mismanagement and corruption during Mugabe’s three decade rule.
The research think tank however noted that the failure to foster stability in the post Mugabe era risked plunging the southern African country in turmoil, while sparking civil unrest.
“After 37 years in power, (former) president Robert Mugabe’s resignation heralds the beginning of a new era in Zimbabwe, not only symbolically, but also in terms of the country’s prospects for meaningful economic reform,” BMI said in January.
“The succession of (former) president Robert Mugabe risks turning violent if plans are not put in place and set in motion prior to his departure, as competing vested interests struggle to fill the power vacuum left in his wake.”
In a report titled Zimbabwe Country Risk Status 2018, the think tank earlier this year projected that GDP per capita would soar to US$979 in 2019 from US$928 before peaking to US$1 068 by 2022.