SA wants Gono to go

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What happened to our R300 million? … and the Global Fund ?

Five prominent Zimbabwean bankers have emerged as front-runners to
succeed Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, as tough
new conditions from the donor community have increased momentum for his
removal from the helm of the central bank.

Initially Gono had been assured of keeping his job in the inclusive
government, albeit with his wings massively clipped, but fierce
resistance has emerged from the donor community and heightened calls
for his ouster.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and new Finance Minister Tendai Biti,
who were in South Africa last Friday for talks with President Kgalema
Motlanthe and Biti’s counterpart, Trevor Manuel, to see how the
regional powerhouse can help, said Gono’s issue would be dealt with
soon.

"In due course, we will evaluate his performance and his role,"
Tsvangirai told reporters, adding, "at the appropriate time a decision
will be made."

A source said Tsvangirai was seeking US$5 billion in aid, and South
Africa was prepared to take the lead in any financial rescue package as
long as Gono was removed.

South Africa had reportedly raised the issue of the embezzlement of
R300 million donated by the South African government to fund the 2009
agricultural season and the disappearance of the US$7,3 million donated
to the RBZ by the Global Fund to buy ARV drugs last year.

Authoritative sources told The Zimbabwean this week that South
African-based economist and investment banker Wellington Chadehumbe,
and Kingdom-Meikles Africa Limited (KMAL) group chief executive Nigel
Chanakira were among the leading contenders for the RBZ top job, key to
reviving Zimbabwe's battered economy.

Also in the running are Time Bank of Zimbabwe Limited (Time) founder
and managing director Chris Takura Tande, University of Witwatersrand
Business School director Professor Mthuli Ncube, and current deputy RBZ
governor Edward Mashiringwani.

But Chanakira told The Zimbabwean: I am comfortably setting up a team
at Meikles at the moment. I have not been approached neither have I
have expressed any interest, while Ncube declined to discuss the issue
in a telephone interview from South Africa.

"The in-coming team (MDC) and the donor community have stated in no
uncertain terms that they do not want to work with Gideon," said the
authoritative official.

"So, Chanakira, Chadehumbe, Mthuli Ncube and Chris Takura Tande of Time
Bank have all been touted as potential candidates. I must also say that
Mashiringwani is in the picture.

"These guys are not only home-bred bankers, who fundamentally
understand how the financial services sector functions, but would also
restore it owing to their relevant qualifications, leadership skills
and experience gained at their own banking projects," said the
official. But, he added, it would not be easy, though, to dislodge
Gono, given his cosy relations with Mugabe.

Ncube and Tande appeared on a "final four-man shortlist" for the
central bank governor job in late 2003, but lost out to Gono, who was
appointed by Mugabe to replace outgoing governor Leonard Tsumba.

Gono, who has presided over the world's weakest currency, highest
inflation and worst performing economy, is a self-professed friend of
the President and his personal banker.

Another official close to the developments said the net was being cast
wider to include expatriate bankers, although there was widespread
preference for locals, who will be helped by a supporting technical
team, including even a foreign deputy governor, to ensure skills
transfer.

"With such a structure, one hopes that the in-coming person will stick
to a consultative and inclusive approach to economic management
strategies, which includes incorporation of divergent views as opposed
to the customary unilateralism (at the RBZ)," said the government
official.

While Chadehumbe is a founder of Triumph Venture Capital (Private)
Limited, Chanakira has an impressive portfolio of companies in the
region and owns Kingdom Bank. He is an economics masters' degree holder
with ample central bank experience. He also has investments in the
sprawling Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited group.

Ncube and Tande have banking experience as founding executives of Barbican Bank Limited (Barbican), and Time, respectively.

Ncube is a finance professor, who served at institutions such as South
Africa's Investec Bank, while Tande is a Masters of Business
Administration graduate, economics degree holder and banking diploma
associate.

In an ironic twist of events, the officials now in the running for
Gono’s job had their banking projects dismantled by the central bank
chief under a so-called financial sector clean up in 2004.

Post published in: News

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