Finance minister Tendai Biti has warned that the projected 7,4% economic growth in 2013 may not be realised if the country slides into a chaotic poll.
Addressing stakeholders at a pre-budget consultative meeting in Bulawayo on Thursday, Biti said the threat of an early election is already a bad sign which may affect economic performance through denting business confidence and discouraging the already exiguous foreign direct investment (FDI).
“2013 is an election year and there is no doubt that if we reproduce the violent, disruptive election environment of 2008, we will not achieve this growth rate,” he said,” There are downward risks that have already factored in the growth budget predictions.”
“Let’s treat next year’s election as a one day event not the cyclical predatory cycle that we have seen in the last 30 years.”
He said the tendency has been that when elections loom everything stops and people concentrate on elections leaving the economic sectors to deteriorate.
Meanwhile, stakeholders bemoaned the critical water shortages in the city of Bulawayo and urged the treasury to allocate and inject significant funds to projects aimed at alleviating the water crisis.
Bulawayo City Council Town Clerk Middleton Nyoni said Bulawayo needs up to a $90 million investment in water infrastructure rehabilitation. He said there are a number of bulk pipeline projects that need to be undertaken but the council has been stalled by lack of sufficient funds.
The council proposed the duplication of the Insiza Dam-Ncema Waterworks pipeline but the local authority has been failing to secure $21 million needed for the project. Insiza Dam has the largest volume of water among the five supply dams but the size of the pipes connecting to Ncema Waterworks is too small.
Nyoni said all the water pipes in the city need replacement as they constantly burst and large volumes of water are lost through leakages. Prior to the water shedding program, the council attended to an average of 500 pipe bursts per month.
“We have pipes that are more than 50 years old, three quarters of our piping network for delivery and reticulation is more than 30 years old,” Nyoni said, “The little water that we still have, some of it is lost through bursts because the pipes cannot sustain the pressure when the water is turned on after shedding.”
The town clerk also warned that the threat of disease outbreaks is now real in the city of Bulawayo due to the soaring crisis.