Millions taken from Zim farm accounts

Moses Mudzwiti

ZIMBABWE'S cash-strapped government has revealed that it owes tobacco farmers millions of dollars it siphoned out of their accounts without their authority.

The country's beleaguered central bank governor, Gideon Gono, revealed
in a huge advert that he had spent US$18-million destined for accounts
belonging to tobacco growers.

Wheat farmers are owed about US$2-million.

The central bank has already admitted spending more than US$30-million belonging to gold mines.

Gono, who is under pressure to step down, said on Monday through an
advert that the Zimbabwe government was paying back the farmers with
bags of fertiliser.

Those wheat and tobacco farmers who are owed money by government
through the Reserve Bank, are being repaid in the most direct way of
supporting their current season's production activities, said Gono.

Last week Gono came under fire from Finance Minister Tendai Biti for
borrowing billions of US dollars from international banks without

Biti wants Gono's conduct investigated, but President Robert Mugabe has blocked the move.

Since then Gono has placed huge adverts in state owned newspapers, explaining what he has done with the money.

From buying cars for ministers and MPs to funding dubious farming schemes, Gono has laid it bare for the public to see.

The unusual stance by the insular government comes amid rising tension between Gono and his boss, Biti.

Influential members of Mugabe's Zanu(PF) party have hailed Gono as a sanctions buster.

Speculation is rife that Gono will be relieved of his position.

The Times (SA)

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