Noose tightens on Gono

gono1.jpgGideon Gono - Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
HARARE - The noose is tightening on Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono amid subtle pressure from Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states keen to see the discredited central bank chie

Authoritative government sources last week said there have been behind-the-scenes efforts to

ensure an honourable exit for the central bank governor, largely
blamed by many for single-handedly authoring the unprecedented collapse
of Zimbabwe's economy during the past five years.

They said Finance Minister Tendai Biti, a fierce critic of the RBZ
chief, was winning the turf war against the media-hogging Gono, thanks
to the tacit backing of most SADC countries that also recognise the
role the governor played in ruining Zimbabwe's economy.

There is a realisation by SADC and others that whatever they pump into
Zimbabwe by way of aid will not achieve the desired results as long as
Gono is still at the reserve bank, hence the poor response so far to
regional body's call for economic support for the country's inclusive
government, said a senior Ministry of Finance official who spoke on
condition he was not named.

SADC member states had by Thursday not committed themselves to aiding
Zimbabwe's economic recovery despite a pledge made on March 30 to
assist their troubled neighbour within two weeks.

The two-week deadline for SADC member states to inform the
organisation's executive secretary Tomaz Salomao on their respective
pledges to support Zimbabwe's economic recovery programme, expired on
April 14, with only South Africa and Botswana honouring their promises
to assist Harare.

South Africa agreed soon after the SADC meeting to give about US$80 million for Zimbabwe's economic recovery.

Botswana pledged last week to provide a US$70m credit line to help revive Zimbabwe's shattered industries.

But the Ministry of Finance source said Gaborone wanted assurances that
its money would be safe from Gono who has in the past abused donations
from the Global Fund to Fight HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Officials from Zimbabwe and Botswana are due to meet soon to finalise the agreement and tie some loose ends.

The Botswana assistance is subject to certain conditions, including an
assurance that the money would not end up as petty cash to finance
Gono's projects, the official said.

Other SADC countries are still engaged in internal consultations although it was unlikely they would meet their obligations.

Zambia and Mozambique announced last week that their respective cabinets were yet to discuss the matter.

The best bet for Zimbabwe's economic revival, therefore, remained the
very mistrusting Western countries which have remained adamant that
they want to see change in President Robert Mugabe's economic and
political policies before giving direct support to Harare.

The West, including major multilateral financial institutions such as
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, have called
for the removal of Gono as the custodian of Zimbabwe's financial levers
as one of the preconditions for aid resumption.

Despite feeble protests in the state media, Gono is credited with
running a parallel government in which he engaged in a five-year orgy
of unbudgeted expenditures which is blamed for fuelling Zimbabwe's
inflation and precipitating the crash of the local dollar.

The West has also demanded an immediate end to Mugabe's ruinous land
grab policy and to guarantee property rights as another precondition
for aid.

Violent farm seizures have continued on the remaining white-owned farms
despite the formation of Zimbabwe's unity government in February as
Mugabe's supporters jostle to remove the few commercial farmers still
on the land.

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