Gono blames politicians for massive cash heist

... but parliamentary committee drags its heels on evidence

BY BAYETHE ZITHA

HARARE – Zimbabwean police officers have failed to arrest the big guns who are allegedly behind the theft of the newly-introduced Z$250 000, Z$500 000 and Z$750 000 denominations of the country’s currency for fear of political interference.

Trunk loads of the newly introduced bearer cheques, with an estimated total value of Z$1 trillion, were reportedly smuggled out of Fidelity Printers in Harare days before the money was introduced into the market by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono.

Sources within both the central bank and Fidelity Printers, who printed the money, told The Zimbabwean the theft was the work of a well knit syndicate involving top politicians belonging to the ruling Zanu (PF) party and other high ranking officials of Fidelity Printers.

The money was smuggled into Zambia three days before it was introduced into the Zimbabwean banking sector, but was intercepted in Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour, while being distributed on the street parallel market there.

However, several trunk-loads of the cash, running into billions, had already been distributed in exchange with the Z$200 000 note, which was meant to be phased out.

“The were intercepted by RBZ Surveillance Unit officers, who were deployed there after the governor (Gideon Gono) had heard about the smuggling. More than 10 people are in custody after they were found distributing the cash, but those who employed them were not arrested. The RBZ authorities have also put a tight lid on the case for fear of stepping on protected toes” said an RBZ source.

The sources said that some top government and ruling party officials had a hand in the thriving parallel market in Harare and Bulawayo.

The police and toothless Anti-Corruption Commission allegedly have no power to act on these powerful individuals, according to the sources.

Police national spokesman, assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, and his deputy, Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka, could not be reached for comment on the matter this week.

Gono has also blamed the country’s thriving parallel foreign exchange on ” politicians, politicians, politicians”.

Gono said he was prepared to name those only involved, but only before

a parliamentary committee. He challenged the Budget, Finance and Economic Development Committee to summon him to give evidence.

However, the committee has surprisingly said that it is not in a hurry to summon Gono to a hearing over the matter.

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