BMI warns of violence over Mugabe succession

BMI warns of violence over Mugabe succession
Published: 21 July 2017
Not for the first time, Zimbabwe has been warned that President Robert Mugabe's failure to resolve the succession issue could plunge the country into bloodletting violence.

This comes as much-needed foreign investors are increasingly taking a wait-and-see attitude as the country prepares for the crucial 2018 national elections.

Business Monitor International (BMI) - an independent group which provides country risk and industry analysis on developing economies and slightly developed but small economies - warned that Mugabe's  refusal to plan for a transition, was forcing large international companies to re-think their plans to invest in Zimbabwe.

The increasingly frail Mugabe has consistently refused to name a successor, leaving that job to Zanu-PF which, according to its constitution, should do that at an elective extraordinary congress.

"The main security risk to investors in Zimbabwe stems from the threat of political violence, which tends to flare up around election periods.

"Ongoing succession battles within the ruling Zanu-PF party have contributed negatively to political stability in Zimbabwe.

"We have seen a premature spike in political violence with different factions engaging in clashes countrywide in 2016, and we expect risks of outbreaks of political violence to remain elevated through to 2018," the BMI said in its latest report.

Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of an economic crisis which has resulted in shortages of cash and many company closures and job losses.

As the 2018 elections loom large on the horizon, rights and opposition groups have been reporting an increase in the incidents of violence which they both blame on Zanu-PF and the state.

Last week, several police details were left nursing injuries when police indiscriminately fired teargas to disperse MDC youths who were holding a demonstration in Harare, before assaulting ordinary citizens who were caught in the chaos that ensued during the running battles with the opposition members.

In the aftermath of the demonstration, suspected political thugs torched an MDC truck in Kuwadzana where one of the opposition party's councillors reported his house was stormed and damaged by gangs believed to be sympathetic to Zanu-PF.

Former Harare mayor and MDC deputy president Elias Mudzuri had his bar set on fire by unknown people and suspects the incident is politically-motivated.

BMI noted many weaknesses which it said were making Zimbabwe an unattractive destination for foreign investors.

"The amalgamation of pervasive corruption, weak rule of law and policy uncertainty underscored by shifting positions on the country's opaque indigenisation policy makes Zimbabwe an unattractive investment environment for foreign firms.

"Corruption and high levels of political interference in the business environment, pose major obstacles to foreign investment and private sector growth.

"Property rights are also poorly enforced, raising the probability of financial losses due to land acquisition and risk of bias in the resolution of contractual disputes particularly in cases involving the state or Zanu-PF-backed entities," it said.

BMI Research said Zimbabwe's political isolation and concomitant economic downturn over the past 17 years have been key factors that contributed to a marked deterioration in the country's business environment.
- dailynews
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