RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono’s hard-hitting monetary policy statement this week and growing suspicions that he is now angling for the presidency have provoked a storm of anger in the ruling Zan
u PF party and government circles.
The fury against Gono, mostly by party officials associated with the faction led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru, has created a powder keg situation in the party and state bureaucracy. This has set the stage for a dramatic endgame in the race to succeed President Mugabe, due to complete his current term of office in 20 months’ time.
Sources said Mugabe’s succession fight had become a fierce power and money struggle involving gangland-style rivalry, plotting and intrigue.
Condemnation of Gono at private political meetings by his rivals reached alarming levels this week.
A group of angry ministers was heard at a local restaurant in the Avenues during lunch on Wednesday, warning: “Gono has gone too far and must be stopped now!”
Politicians and businessmen expressed fears that Gono’s strategy to knock off three zeros from the old bearer’s cheques to be phased out on August 21 was calculated to liquidate their trillions as part of a wider power struggle.
“Gono is going after certain people who are pursuing him as well. It’s a dogfight,” a source said.
The sources said ministers were enraged because as members of cabinet they were not aware new bearer’s cheques were being introduced on Tuesday — the same day that cabinet meets. When Gono announced the issue ministers appeared shocked. Some did not clap their hands as they had done during the initial part of his speech.
“Ministers were not aware of it and that really incensed them. The only people who knew were President Mugabe and his deputies, the state security agents and army generals, as well as senior staff from the RBZ, Fidelity Printers and those contracted to do adverts for the new bearer’s cheques,” a source said.
The sources said this was seen by Zanu PF members as an indication that Gono had become embedded with Mugabe and the state security and army — widely seen in ruling party ranks as the building blocks to power.
Vice-President Joice Mujuru is widely seen as the frontrunner, although there are fears her plan could be torpedoed by rivals. Zanu PF political heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa and now Gono are seen as her rivals.
Mujuru is now said to view Gono — the only high profile figure able to bring together people of different political persuasions, including opposition MPs who attended his address but boycotted Mugabe’s — as a key potential challenger for Mugabe’s seat.
Mujuru and Gono’s perceived rivalry was fuelled by Mujuru’s failure on Monday to attend Gono’s monetary policy occasion, targeted at “currency stashers”, although she was said to have been in a meeting with Mugabe.
Gono’s own failure to attend Mujuru’s address at the CZI congress in Bulawayo on Wednesday made matters worse.
Speculation about Gono’s ambitions was cranked up by state television video footage on Tuesday which showed him during a walk-around in Harare, with people cheering him on.
“Gono is beginning to have power ambitions and the clearest indication of this were events on Tuesday when he obviously hired ZBC staff and a rented crowd to give the impression of popularity,” a senior Zanu PF official said.
Mugabe last week raised the political temperature when he said there were people plotting to kill Gono because he was seen as sabotaging their businesses.
Gono is fighting with Finance minister Herbert Murerwa over policy issues. Mugabe has rallied behind Gono.
Members of the Mujuru faction have complained that Gono has been attacking their business interests by closing banks and companies.
Zanu PF members who belong to the Mujuru faction said yesterday they were riled by what they described as “Gono’s antics” during his monetary policy statement and tour around Harare.
They said Gono, who was also expected to tour Bulawayo, Gweru and Kwekwe until yesterday, was now abusing his office to push a political agenda.
“The motive of his monetary policy and Mugabe’s remarks show there is something he is up to. But if he wants to become president, it’s a big non-starter,” another Zanu PF official said.