Zimbabwe's fragile economy is likely to take a fatal battering when the country holds fresh elections in the coming year, a local political think tank has predicted.
According to the African Economic Outlook 2017 report released in May, the economy is projected to grow by 1.7%.
However, in 2018, when the country holds the much-anticipated polls, the economy is expected to decelerate 0,9%.
Speaking at a ZIMBALLOT 2018 Elections series, Dr Samukele Hadebe said elections have had a negative impact on the country's economy.
The dialogue series is being spearheaded by The Platform for Leveraging Elections, Democracy and Governance (PLEDGE), a political think tank made up of Civil Society organisations from Matabeleland region
Said Hadebe; "If as Zimbabweans we have capacity to learn something from history then we should have long realised that (the country's) economic fortunes have directly plunged commensurate with disputed electoral outcomes, notably in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2013.
"Logically, 2018 elections should not and must not continue the negative trend. Responsible stakeholders would not allow a conduct of elections that result in a loss-loss to all Zimbabweans.
"If we pursue that logic of rational stakeholders then the forthcoming 2018 elections should ideally reverse the negative trend."
Hadebe continued: "Zimbabwe approaches the 2018 elections against a background of declining economic performance marked by restricted fiscal space, massive informalisation of the economy, de-industrialisation, high unemployment rates and a hugely unbalanced export versus import bill."
He said PLEDGE conceived the dialogue series as an agenda-setting platform for evidence-based elections discourse ahead of the 2018 plebiscite.
"The platform was motivated by, among other things, the need for the Matabeleland region to develop local capacity in elections research and analysis which thereafter diffuse nationally.
"While Matabeleland region's contribution to Zimbabwe's development in the spheres of governance, democracy and peace building are unparalleled, the component on elections has been embarrassingly underdeveloped," said Dr Hadebe.
Political parties have already put in motion their campaigns ahead of the crunch elections, with long-time ruler, President Robert Mugabe, 93, seeking another five-year term in office, having already led the country for close to four decades.