TRADING on Zimbabwe’s equities market was suspended this week after mass protests and civil unrest unnerved investors in a week punctuated by clashes between state security agents and protestors in most of the high-density suburbs countrywide.
By Chris Muronzi
Stockbrokers opted not to trade amid safety concerns after protesters attacked motorists, blocked all major roads in and around the capital, Harare, and attacked those who were perceived to be not heeding the call to abstain from work in anti-government protests.
Government also disconnected Zimbabwe’s main internet gateway port in an attempt keep citizens in the dark as protests spread countrywide. This hindered trading, which is now fully automated.
The protests were triggered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s announcement of a massive hike in fuel prices in what many viewed as an attempt to price the commodity in line with prevailing parallel market rates.
Petrol was raised from a price of bond notes $1,33 per litre to $3,11 while diesel rose to around $3,05 per litre respectively.
The increase was seen as an attempt to track unofficial rates of bond notes. The parallel market rate was US$1 to $3,30 bond note.
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange opened firm Monday, gaining a massive 3,5% in a single day of trade amid worries the latest increase could stoke inflationary pressures. Analysts had expected an upside in equities with investors hedging against expected inflationary pressures stemming from the fuel increase.
Stocks opened trades soft this year with some marginal stock sales from investors liquidating holdings to meet schools opening obligations. The ZSE generally trades softly in the month of January and tends to gather momentum from February going into the year. Most market players take longer to return to the market.