Gono’s US$800,000 phone bill

Central bank Governor Gideon Gono reportedly owes the state owned NetOne mobile network US$800,000 in unpaid phone bills stretching over two years. According to the South African Sunday Times newspaper, NetOne has now dragged Gono to court demanding payment.

Gideon Gono
Gideon Gono

The report comes only a few days after the Daily News newspaper exposed Mugabe and several cabinet ministers as owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to ZESA in electricity bills. Mugabe and his wife Grace owe the power utility US$345,000 in unpaid electricity bills, incurred at their multiple farms.

According to NetOne, Gono incurred the bill between January 2009 and September last year. The last time Gono paid his bill was in August 2011 when he made a payment of US$50. “In November 2009, Gono paid $200,000, and $100,000 in September the following year, while in February and June last year he only paid $4 towards his debt,” the paper reported.

Gono meanwhile is challenging the amount and asked to be supplied with an itemised bill. He is also querying how NetOne levied foreign currency-denominated tariffs for its services prior to the introduction and use of multi-currencies. He also asked them what rate they use to convert if the initial charges were in Zimbabwe dollars.

Several commentators interviewed by SW Radio Africa have pointed out that the refusal by the so-called VIP’s to pay their bills to parastatals like ZESA and NetOne has contributed to the collapse of some of the companies.

Meanwhile the row between Gono and his former adviser Dr Munyaradzi Kereke took a nasty turn last week, following claims that Kereke’s personal driver, Privilege Maturure, was attacked by two men sent by Gono. The attack allegedly took place at Kereke’s medical centre, in Harare’s Mount Pleasant suburb.

The alleged hitmen, George Nyauye and Philip Dendere, both employed by the Reserve Bank in the security division, were arrested while in the process of attacking Maturure. Kereke is now pleading for protection from the courts for what he says are threats on his life.

Kereke last week claimed the two alleged hitmen had trailed him throughout the day and later followed him to his medical centre where they allegedly caused a scene, which led to the attack on the driver. The driver is said to be recovering at a local hospital in Harare.

The alleged hitmen appeared in court last week Wednesday, charged with assault and the trial is scheduled to open on the 7th April. The two were back in court on Friday to answer to separate charges of trailing and threatening Kereke. The trial date for this second case has been pencilled in for the 10th April.

In his submissions Kereke is pleading for protection from the courts for what he says are growing threats to his life from Gono. The row between the two has fuelled speculation a faction within ZANU PF is targeting Gono for refusing to cooperate with regime hardliners who want PM Tsvangirai arrested over funds used to renovate his official residence. SW Radio Africa

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