RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono’s future hangs in the balance as opposition negotiators at the talks in Pretoria demand that he should be booted out of the envisaged new government for allegedly propping up President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
The issue was raised during power-sharing talks between Zanu PF and the two factions of the MDC in South Africa. Sources said the opposition wants Gono to be replaced in the new government because it was unhappy with his quasi-fiscal activities and funding of government operations, especially security ministries whose organs have been accused of perpetrating political violence during recent elections. Gono has always said he was acting according to orders from his superiors and is prepared to leave anytime if needs be.
One of the MDC negotiators Elton Mangoma slammed Gono’s recent monetary policy statement, especially the removal of zeros from bearers’ cheques, saying it was just inconsequential “tinkering” with the symptoms of the problem.
“The MDC believes that no amount of tinkering with currency denominations will address the Zimbabwean crisis. As long as there isno production, we will continue to move in circles as a country. The supply side of the economy should be addressed by confronting Zimbabweans real crisis, which is the crisis of governance and legitimacy,” he said.
Another MDC negotiator Tendai Biti has also criticised Gono during the recent election campaigns reportedly describing him as similar to an “Al-Qaeda” terrorist who should be put before a firing squad.
Sources said Gono’s problem is compounded by the fact that he also has a lot of political enemies within Zanu PF, especially within the faction led by retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru.
Previously he clashed with former Finance minister Herbert Murerwa until he was removed by Mugabe. Gono has been pushed many times before to the brink of resignation due to political pressure. There have been reports of late that he could resign, but sources said this highly unlikely considering that his term ends in November.
If Gono’s tenure is not renewed, he would be the first governor since 1980 to have only served one term as the other previous substantive ones served full terms. Mugabe might save Gono by appointing him to cabinet, it is said. Gono himself is understood to be contemplating going into the private sector where he has interests in farming, export business, media, property and financial sectors.
Sources said if Gono went he could be replaced by one of his three deputies Edward Mashiringwani. Charity Dhliwayo and Nicholas Ncube are the other deputies and both have considerable experience in their jobs.
Gono yesterday dismissed this as “speculation”. “There is always a lot media speculation about my position and our programmes. I think what you are hearing is just speculation,” Gono said. “People will always speculate and in such public positions as we are in we don’t have to raise our hackles about that.”
However, sources said MDC negotiators were insistent that Gono should not have any role to play in a new government because he had allegedly funded repression, while worsening the economic crisis.
Gono was also reportedly accused of being unprofessional and partisan in his conduct of central bank business.
“The MDC wants the new government to make a number of changes, among them the removal of Gono,” one of the sources said.
By Nkululeko Sibanda