Central bank threatens newspapers

HARARE - The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) board of directors has this week published in all state-owned newspapers an intention to sue two private independent weeklies over reports that RBZ governor Gideon Gono had bought himself a top of the range Mercedes Benz for US$365,000.
The Zimbabwean a

nd the Sunday weekly The Standard reported last week that Gono, in his personal capacity, had purchased the fastest Benz in the world, a Brabus E V12.
While initially the RBZ staunchly refused to comment on a “private matter,” in a volte face this week, the central bank’s human resources board committee chairman, LP Chihota issued a full-page rebuttal in English, Shona and Ndebele, denying the existence of the vehicle.
The statement glossed over Gono’s official car, an S600 Mercedes Benz which it said was bought through a “swap and top-up arrangement” for US$138,000.
But this is not the vehicle in question.
The newspaper reports clearly stated that Gono had purchased the Brabus E V12 and the RBZ had nothing to do with it. This had “infuriated” many workers at RBZ who were denied annual bonuses last year in November by Gono on the grounds that the bank did not have the money to pay the 13th cheques. The move by the RBZ board to spring to Gono’s defense in a matter that does not involve the central bank has raised eyebrows, with many questioning why the RBZ board was angry on behalf of Gono.
“Given the anxiety this falsehood must have caused to the Governor, our Principals in Government, the Corporate Sector, Labour, Civic Society and all other Stakeholders here at home, within the region and internationally, the Board of Directors has resolved that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should take immediate steps to bring legal action on the media houses concerned, The Standard and The Zimbabwean, as corporate entities, and against Caiphas Chimhete in his individual capacity as the instigator of the damaging falsehood,” the RBZ statement said.
The Zimbabwean quoted an official from the Anti-corruption Commission who confirmed that the body was investigating the purchase of the vehicle.
Media analysts said the move could be part of well-orchestrated ploy to weigh down the two newspapers with massive lawsuits by using the RBZ’s unlimited financial resources.
No figures have been announced as yet. But analysts widely expect the lawsuit to run into trillions. – Own correspondent

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