26. May 2009

Mugabe Says Gono Will Stay On As RBZ Governor

Robert Mugabe on Monday told state television that Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono will retain his job, despite pressure for him to go. The 85-year old ZANU PF leader blamed critics in Britain and elsewhere for being the source of the pressure.
But the MDC, who entered into a coalition government with ZANU PF 3 months ago, said Mugabe's statement simply confirmed there was a political deadlock over Gono and the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana. A statement from the party issued Tuesday said Gono and Tomana's appointments are a 'political hygiene issue which stems from their unprocedural and unilateral appointments,' in violation of the unity deal signed by the parties.
Economic analysts blame Gono for fuelling hyper-inflation through the careless printing of money and other quasi-fiscal activities outside the jurisdiction of the bank. Under his reign the central bank bought flat screen televisions and vehicles for the country's judges, senior army chefs and other key ZANU PF figures. In adverts placed in the state owned newspapers last month Gono also admitted to raiding the foreign currency accounts of NGO's and private companies, without their permission. He claimed he wanted to keep government ministries afloat.
The MDC believes Gono's tainted reign has created skepticism amongst international donors who fear the central bank governor might dip his fingers in the trough once again. Only last year the Global Aids Fund threatened to cut funding meant for fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria if US$7,3 million stolen by Gono was not returned. The money was eventually paid back. The MDC say issues like this have eroded the integrity of the bank and also hamper the new government's efforts to secure funding.
An example of this problem was the announcement by Norway on Monday that it would donate US$9 million to Zimbabwe, but only via third parties to bypass Mugabe's people. The money will be donated through the United Nations, NGO's and the World Bank for the 'Zimbabwean people and to support the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and the new coalition government,' the Norwegian ministry for development aid said in a statement.
Meanwhile, according to the AFP news agency, Mugabe staunchly defended Gono's reign during the burial of the governor's brother. 'He is not a thief, he has done no wrong. Prove the wrong he has done,' Mugabe said. The MDC responded by saying 'in the absence of a forensic audit of the RBZ, Mugabe cannot be allowed to say that the RBZ never misappropriated a single dime.' The party statement also reminded Mugabe that the inclusive government is made up of 3 principal leaders and Mugabe alone cannot make decisions on such key appointments.
The MDC have called on SADC and the AU, 'as the guarantors of the GPA, to adjudicate over this issue as a matter of urgency because it shakes the foundation and threatens the health, stability and life of the inclusive government.' (Allafrica)

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