The head of the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency said his agency has tried to survey businesses about the economic environment but many firms did not respond to questionnaires sent in the first quarter of this year.
ZimStats Acting Director Moffat Nyoni said more than half the companies sent the questionnaire didn’t return it, and acknowledged the agency should have given companies more advance notice to encourage their participation.
ZimStats wanted companies to provide intelligence on business trends, industrial production, manufacturing volumes, employment and their use of information and communication technology. Though some firms responded, the information ZimStats received was not complete enough to provide a snapshot of the economy.
Comprehensive survey results would have helped businesses, government agencies, foreign investors and international organizations make a broad range of economic and financial decisions, Nyoni said.
Matabeleland Chamber of Industries Chairwoman Ruth Labode told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that most companies did not respond to the ZimStats survey because the questionnaires were too complicated.
Economic commentator Rejoice Ngwenya said ZimStats should be using the Internet and social media to conduct its surveys. “Most businesses prefer using fast means of responding to questionnaires and as such ZimStats has to ensure that they effectively use the Internet to conduct their surveys," he said.
The predecessor organization to ZimStats, the Central Statistical Office, stopped conducting key economic surveys in 2005 and eventually even stopped issuing data on consumer prices as hyperinflation ran out of control.
The ZimStats survey effort is funded by the Harare government and the African Development Bank.