Covid-19 hits already fragile Zim economy

The outbreak of Covid-19, a disease caused by the deadly Coronavirus, which has spread across the globe and claimed many lives, is negatively impacting on the already fragile Zimbabwean economy.

Having contracted by 6.5 percent in 2019, the Southern African nation’s economy is set to further shrink this year on the back of a failed cropping season and the Coronavirus which has almost brought the whole world to a standstill.

Zimbabwe has already indefinitely postponed the annual Zimbabwe International Trade Fair ZITF which was set to take place next month.

Other important business meetings such as the one for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) stock exchanges initially scheduled for early March was also cancelled because of the Covid19 pandemic.

Although Zimbabwe has not recorded a single confirmed case of Coronavirus, Covid-19 which was first detected in China late last year has spread to 34 out of 54 countries in Africa including neighbouring South Africa, which stood at 202 confirmed curses by Friday.

Declaring the pandemic a national disaster on Tuesday, President Emmerson, said its effects were already felt in the economy.

“Today signs of national and global economic recession and crises are already in evidence,” said President Mnangagwa.

“In our case, we have seen key bilateral projects in many sectors, most notably in transport and infrastructure either being slowed down or coming to a complete halt. Travel and tourism has taken a knock from curtailed human movements, in our case on the back of two successive droughts.”

He added: “While we have no recorded cases as yet, the economic impact of the pandemic, is already being felt, threatening Vision 2030.”

The government’s vision is to transform Zimbabwe into an upper-middle-income economy by 2030.

Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) vice president responsible for Matabeleland, Golden Muoni, told CITE as part of the global village, Zimbabwe was not spared from the effects of the pandemic.

“As Zimbabwe, we are the most affected because we do not produce anything; we rely on imported goods and raw materials,” said Muoni.

He said almost everything was on a standstill, with a number of business transactions remaining suspended with the world focusing on fighting Covid-19.

“We hope and pray that global trade returns to normalcy,” he added.

Economist, Dumisani Sibanda, who said while Zimbabwe had already been under “self-imposed quarantine economically,” Covid19 was even aggravating the situation.

The areas disrupted by the Coronavirus though not widespread, Sibanda said included tourism and its whole value chain.

“That is suppliers to hotels and general economic activity involving the sector,” he explained, “Airline travel is part of the tourism sector.”

With China, being one of the countries most affected by Covid-19, Sibanda said Zimbabwe’s tobacco marketing season, was likely to suffer a setback.

“The tobacco season should be starting in April; this could be slow as China is the biggest buyer of tobacco,” said Sibanda.

“The slow start could affect foreign currency inflows. The RBZ plans in managing the exchange rate could be affected as tobacco sales would usually stabilise the rate until about September when we normally experience devaluation due to reduced foreign currency inflows.”

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