Gono: the worst ever say poverty-stricken citizens

A cross section of the population has spoken out about Gideon Gono’s 10-year tenure at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, with ordinary people dismissing him as the worst governor ever, while analysts gave mixed reactions.

Gideon Gono
Gideon Gono

Gono left RBZ last month after a decade at the helm of the central bank.

Alex Green from Mandara in Harare said Gono was the worst governor since 1980, accusing him of failing to manage the banking sector and adopting measures that promoted parallel market trading in money.

“It was painful that money was on the streets and not in the banks. Money was meant for the privileged few. His agricultural policies benefitted a few individuals and until now, there is no audit of how those inputs were distributed,” he added.

Gono’s tenure coincided with acute money shortages at banks and a flourishing foreign currency black market as RBZ printed high volumes of money to sustain the economy – causing the world’s highest hyperinflation.

There were many allegations that the RBZ participated in the black market by offloading trillions of Zimbabwean dollars onto the streets where agents bought in foreign currency.

Harare residents accused Gono of pandering to the whims of influential politicians whom they said benefited at the expense of millions of Zimbabweans. Gono has insisted that he acted on instructions from top government officials.

“Any governor who is at the helm of power should resign if they realise that there is too much political interference in how they execute their duty. This post is suitable for a technocrat and not someone who is politically connected,” added Green.

Aleck Nyamambititi of Budiriro in Harare said: “Gono’s tenure in office can only be celebrated by Zanu (PF) stalwarts, because they benefitted from the partisan distribution of inputs.”

Patricia Shumbaimwe, 34, from Hatfield in the capital had no kind words for the former RBZ governor. “He is the reason why we do not have our local currency. Economic blunders such as the printing of the then Zim dollar and its continued worthless revaluation cost the country its currency,” she said.

Zimbabwe finally discarded the worthless local currency in early 2009 and adopted a multi-currency regime that is still in operation. Millions of people lost their savings when the currency was changed.

Shumbaimwe said Gono’s tenure at RBZ days brought memories of a series of economic blunders.

“These days, it all sounds like a huge circus but it was real. It was so bad that one could not even budget transport money to go back home. I remember one time when I collected my salary at the bank, and the money was not enough to pay for my bus fare home,” she said.

Gono’s appointment at the country’s biggest financial institution in 2003 was based on the premise that he was the ‘turn- around expert’. This followed his contribution in the consolidation and turnaround strategy which saved the banking and financial giant, the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe Holdings Limited, from collapse.

Several former RBZ employees who were laid off several years ago and are yet to receive all their severance payoffs accused Gono of neglecting their welfare.

Said one of them who declined to be identified: “The problem with Gono was that he sought to please politicians at our expense as employees. He arbitrarily changed our working conditions and our salaries were poor. He was feared at RBZ but was not popular among us.”

Economic analyst, Vince Musewe said Gono’s tenure at the helm of the RBZ further worsened the plight of the majority of Zimbabweans and destroyed what was left of the country’s economy.

“There is no single person who did as much damage in destroying the country’s economy as Gono. His economic decisions were on maintaining and sustaining the welfare of President Robert Mugabe and his cronies,” said Musewe.

Musewe said Gono failed to deliver on his mandate because he allowed himself to be roped into politics and further influenced to chant the sanctions mantra.

“The trend among African leaders is that once they have exhibited their incompetence and failure to effectively fulfill their mandate, they blame other people for their failure,” said Musewe, emphasising that whichever way Gono’s tenure as governor is analysed, he was a failure.

Zimbabwe Youth Development Foundation Trust Director, James Bayanai, said the former governor tried his best despite the difficult circumstances that he was operating under.

“Gono’s policies needed support but he was not supported by even the government officials whose contribution on the black market was rampant,” he said.

During Gono’s time several foreign currency accounts worth thousands of dollars, particularly those of non-governmental organisations, were raided and most of them are yet to get their money back.

Economic analyst, Eric Bloch applauded Gono for a job well done and said his work was marred by the continued intervention of politicians. “He operated and was guided by politicians who had no clue of how to manage and implement economic principles and policies,” said Bloch.

“This had negative consequences on his plan of action and saw the country plunge into the worst ever hyperinflation period, characterised by an unstable currency and a flourishing black market,” he said.

During his tenure, Gono tightened liquidity support to banks, offering only solvent and viable banks with ‘ethical corporate practices’.

This led to the closure of several banks such as Interfin that was placed under curatorship in June 2012, Genesis Investment that was closed in June 2012 and the closure of over 1,600 micro-finance institutions as well as the flight of proprietors, some of whom included the country’s richest and talented businessmen.

MDC deputy spokesperson, Kurauone Chihwayi, said Zimbabweans would not miss Gono because he did not serve the interests of the nation.

“His departure was long overdue and he will be remembered for breaking the world hyperinflation records and printing artificial money. He served the interests of a single political party while the majority of citizens wallow in abject poverty to this day as a result of what happened back then,” he said.

Post published in: News
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