LOCAL business executives this week confronted Vice-President Joice Mujuru (pictured) and bluntly told her they did not want early elections next year as that would upset the current political and macro-economic stability while disrupting economic recovery.The businessmen told Mujuru on Wednesday in Harare they did not want early polls at a lively business forum organised by Ernst & Young. The function was attended by Minister of State in Mujuru’s office, Sylvester Nguni, Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President & Cabinet, retired colonel Christian Katsande, and leading business executives, including Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Joseph Kanyekanye and chief executives of major companies.
While industry and commerce issues arose at the meeting, the subject of elections loomed large.
Kanyekanye set the ball rolling on elections, telling Mujuru directly: “It is not in the national interest, business interest to have elections next year. What we need is to address our inability to engage. Let’s go back into the Commonwealth, re-engage the West to find out what they perceive to be our problem … As business we don’t want elections.”
Elisha Mushayakarara, ZB Financial Holdings chief executive, said politicians must concentrate on delivering “food on people’s tables” and not elections and name-calling.
“We seem to be concentrating so much on politics and elections, things like ‘uyu anotengesa” (this one is a sellout) and the like. I don’t think it’s good for our country. Out there, 99,99% of the people expect leaders to deliver food on their tables. And that is what we should be concentrating on,” he said.
“We are supposed to deliver the goods to these people. Whether the elections happen in 2011 or 2111, it’s neither here nor there. Let’s make sure we do the correct things and make sure the economy ticks.”
In response, Mujuru said the talk of elections was in the context of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which says after two years and the referendum on the new constitution political parties in the inclusive government would have to deal with the issue of polls.
Mujuru said: “It’s not anything that is coming from anybody that we want elections but we have this document (GPA). Why is it that there are elections? It’s because of the (Government of National Unity) GNU. What does the GPA say? After 24 months, what are we supposed to do? And I’m sure this is what is being followed. And it’s us, it’s our country, everybody saying prior to this period what was happening among us and what has the GNU brought. This has brought growth that you are talking about and you are saying we are yet to get to the level of normal and real growth.
“But if something comes (elections) again, whatever we have (that’s what you are saying), whatever we are realising is going to disappear. That’s what you are saying. Nothing stops you from saying to the president, from saying to the presidium, the premiership, guys, ladies, this thing is like this. The GNU is calling for that but we are not prepared for it, say it and say it properly. What’s your fear? Fear is our worst enemy. We are killing ourselves because we don’t talk. But in corridors we talk a lot.”
Mujuru signalled that if businessmen did not want elections and have a good reason for it they must approach President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to discuss the issue.
Albert Nhau, group chief executive of Mike Appel Organisation Ltd, said principals should be able to negotiate for elections to come later.
“You said the GNU was negotiated by political parties. My submission is that why can’t the same political parties negotiate for the extension (of GPA) on elections because everybody is saying elections are not conducive for a good business environment,” he said.
Mugabe has been calling for elections despite stiff opposition from Zanu PF and other parties.
Informed sources said Sadc facilitator in Zimbabwe, South Africa President Jacob Zuma last Friday urged the GPA principals, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, to first draw up a credible road map before elections to ensure the outcome is not disputed again.
Zuma yesterday met with Sadc troika of the organ on politics, defence and security chairman, Zambian President Rupiah Banda, in Pretoria where they discussed the Zimbabwe situation. After the meeting Zuma called for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying that would be “helpful”. Zuma said Mugabe and other principals were looking forward to elections, but did not give details.
Banda said the troika would meet again in January to discuss Zimbabwe.
Business on Wednesday insisted that early elections were not desirable.
Alpha Media Holdings chief executive Raphael Khumalo asked Mujuru what was the point in the first place of having elections when Zanu PF says it would not accept defeat?
Mujuru did not directly answer the question, but called for communication and dialogue among Zimbabweans.
However, one business executive, Frederick Mutanda, who has interests in the motor industry, pharmaceuticals, real estate and finance, had a different opinion. He said elections must be held soon to ensure one leader is in charge of government.
“We talk about elections. I think we have got two governments. The MDC is doing this and Zanu PF is doing that. And that’s disgusting. Can the country go on like this? I don’t think so,” he said.
“I think it is better to have one government; one government, one president and one prime minister who can work with each other. It’s either we have one government or no government at all. I think we need elections, the sooner the better, so that we know who is in charge.”