The following is a letter written by Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on May 11 in which he alleges political victimisation and asks for the Prime Minister’s protection. Â
Rt Hon Prime Minister, Sir,
re: complaint against personal victimisation and vilification by Hon Minister of Finance T L Biti.
1. As you may be aware Hon Prime Minister, the strained relations between the Hon Minister of Finance and myself are a matter of public knowledge and, need I say, concern.
2. For more than a year now, the minister has uttered, publicly and privately, words and statements that are not only criminally defamatory but also seriously insulting to my person, family and indeed, to the institution that I work for, its board, management and staff. His misleading statements are also career limiting in my field of finance and economics.
3.Â Â Â Professional disagreements in public offices are a matter of daily life for public personalities but constant and malicious misrepresentations, unrestrained utterances, incitement of violence against the person of the governor, outright lies and victimisation against persons doing their normal duties are traits normally unheard of especially coming from “offices that are supposed to know and act better”.
4. Examples may drive home the point:
(a) At a campaign rally in Masvingo last year, Hon Minister called me names and accused me of “being at the epicentre of Zanu PF terror machine”; “an economic saboteur, terrorist and number one Al-Qaeda who deserves to be shot by a firing squad”.
These utterances were widely circulated both in the print and electronic media and today form the basis of the hate-mail that I receive and the hatred many MDC-T supporters display against the governor. Indeed the international community has also been poisoned to believe that I am a member of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda. These threats to my life and family are very unsettling and may one day be carried out by an over-zealous MDC-T party member or just criminals hiding behind the minister’s publicly declared wishes of getting me killed.
(b) On several occasions, the distinguished minister has accused me of “killing this economy through printing money”. This is despite the overwhelming evidence that the country was and remains under the yoke of debilitating sanctions and other constraints such as droughts/floods and political differences all of which are/were militating against international support in the area of lines of credit among other needs. The Hon Minister only came to acknowledge on Monday 4 May, 2009 when he returned from the IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings held in Washington DC, USA that sanctions are “real” and that they need to be removed if we are to turn around this economy. This admission was despite previous denials.
5. Now if indeed the Hon Minister, after only three months in office is now realising that this economy cannot be stabilised let alone turned-around without the repeal of ZIDERA and other pieces of “restrictive” actions by some economic powers in the West, and that without such a repeal of these toxic pieces of legislation and actions against Zimbabwe, the country cannot access the much needed lines of credit, how did or does the Hon Minister expect me to successfully turn-around this economy in the presence of ZIDERA which some have accused him of having participated in its “birth” and “sustenance” over the years?
6. After my three children were unceremoniously expelled out of Australia before your visit to that country, Sir in 2006 they suffered a two year roll-back in their university education, and when they found new universities to go to, they found themselves being called upon to explain how their father is allegedly associated with the Al-Qaeda terrorist organisation with the threat of further expulsion from their new university if the allegations were/are not refuted. Who among us parents can stomach such misfortune if directed at their own children?
7. It is a known fact that leadership is not about expecting others to perform miracles where the leader himself cannot perform same. What is difficult to achieve for the Hon Minister today (raising lines of credit) is a fraction of what my team and I were expected to achieve in an environment of not only ZIDERA but serious political and social in-fighting between Zimbabweans prior to the inclusive government.
8. A lot more “kiya-kiyering” was and had to be done to sustain the economy, sustain life and everything else this inclusive government found in place. Without such gymnastics including the so-called printing of money or “quantitative easing” as they are now calling it in Europe and elsewhere, this country could have easily degenerated into unprecedented chaos with no opportunity ever for anyone in the inclusive government to be in the comfortable positions from where they are now calling the “shots” today.
9. I have suffered and continue to suffer abuse and ridicule at a time when you as Prime Minister have been telling the nation that bye-gones are bye-gones and that we need to move forward but this message doesn’t seem to have found root in some quarters.
10. You know very well Rt Hon Prime Minister that people are being highly dishonest when they allege that it is/was the Governor of the Reserve Bank who “killed” this economy for I do have on file, letters from Ministers of Finance and other stakeholders including labour and business dealing with requests for funding and/or authorisations to move in a given direction.
11. I believe that it needs to be appreciated, Rt Hon Prime Minister, that the last 10 years have been a period of both political and economic madness in this country and that the work of sanctions-busting the world-over is not a walk in the garden park or a straight-forward text-book lesson and practice from an Apprenticeship Economic textbook.
12. Sanctions are a form of war-fare against the sanctioned country or people and my job was to try and defeat them, not physically but through “out-of-the-box” type of thinking strategies all of which had the blessings of my Head of State and President Cde R G Mugabe whom you are free to check and verify with, as well as the entire Cabinet of the day.
13. It is heartening to note though that Hon Minister Biti is following the same path, going to the same African banks and friends who stood by us during the said period of madness and only last week, the Hon Minister happily and proudly ran with and announced to the world facilities that my team and I had negotiated and secured namely the US$300 million country programme from Afrieximbank which was approved in Mauritius on December 12 2008 and the PTA Bank facility, again which we had negotiated last year and was awaiting activation.
14. These two institutions, together with Al-Shams linked to Mr Jayesh Shar, are the three main sources of funding who helped us during difficult times. Today it is an open secret that Hon Minister Biti is going to all of them for support and all three are supporting the inclusive government at a critical time when noone else, including the so-called donor community is giving us funds due to understandable economic difficulties in their own backyards.
15. The point here Rt Hon Prime Minister is that nothing my team and I did is not being followed by the new Minister of Finance and I can point out that 99% of our recommendations for the turn-around of this economy have been included in Sterp.
16. This is not to take away anything/credit from the Hon Minister’s well received Sterp but to draw attention to the need for “modesty in pronouncements made and credit taken while standing at the pulpit” so to speak when the Minister is addressing stakeholders.
17. It is against this background that charges to the effect that this governor and his team “murdered” or committed atrocities in this economy are hereby vehemently denied.
A lot said, done and misrepresented…
18. A lot has been said by the distinguished Hon Minister, done and misrepresented all in an effort to destroy the governor, to remove me from the post (as if I re-appointed myself!).
Where is all this hatred coming from?
19. In trying to examine the possible angles from where such personal hatred, venom and attacks have been coming, it has dawned on my team and I that all this noise about “Governor must Go song” especially as it rings loudest from the powerful Secretary—General of MDC-T and Minister of Finance may have its background in self-interest and protection. The background to it is as summarised in the attached write-up involving the Hon Minister’s legal firm, Honey & Blanckenberg.
20. The background involves the bank’s investigation into alleged rampant externalisation of foreign currency resources and money laundering activities discovered at the minister’s legal firm Honey & Blanckenberg where he is (or was) a partner.
21. After getting a tip-off on the case in which the law firm was allegedly prejudicing the country of the much needed foreign currency and possibly tax-revenues due to government through such exchange control violations, my team investigated the firm’s records (those which had not yet been deleted by then) and came up with a “can of worms” suggesting that the firm could have been involved in these forex scams from before 2003.
22. As the attached summary will show you, in the few months that the investigating team considered, it uncovered a total of over US$1 million which was allegedly kept outside the country in violation of Section 9, 10(1)C and 11 of the 1996 Exchange Control Regulations.
Records for other months were allegedly deleted before the investigating team could lay their hands on them.
23. Intimidatory tactics are said to have been encountered during these investigations leading to various forms of delays in the completion of this assignment/case.
24. Ultimately as the attached report shows, one of the whistle-blowers who was employed by the law firm had to leave the firm due to alleged victimisation, the same that I am suffering from today.
25. Of course legal explanations, arguments and justifications were proffered by the law firm, as would be expected, but these were found to hold no substance as it was proven that Honey & Blanckenberg as a law firm were banking their money into Barclays Bank, Barclays House, Victoria Street, Douglas, Isle of Man via UK, account details being:
Swift Code: BARCGB22
Account No. 68949366,
Sort Code : 20-26-74.
IBAN : GB95BARC20267468949366.
26. The case and its facts were analysed by the bank’s legal personnel in the normal way that the bank does with all other cases before deciding to go ahead with prosecution and as we speak, the matter is yet to come to actual trial although it is at the courts.
27. With Advocate Eric Matinenga the one set to be accused firm’s defence lawyer (as of January 2009), my team members, seeing what victimisation is being meted against the governor, is now expressing reluctance to go and stand in court to testify against the Minister of Finance’s legal firm.
28. The issue now at stake is, how come the governor continues to be victimised for doing his job while the Rt Hon Prime Minister, who is supposed to be in the picture of all this “through ministerial declarations of interest” or conflict(s) with institutions or persons that the ministers deal with under their Ministries?
29. It is not difficult to conclude that threats of investigating the governor “left right and centre” as well as putting the governor on the GPA list of persons who must go has all along been motivated by the desire to intimidate the governor and his team or at best to scandalise and remove me from the scene so that a pliable governor is put in my place and certain matters then get buried under the carpet in the process.
30. This also explains the “personal hatred” nature of the minister’s zeal, enthusiasm and speed with which he seeks to remove the present governor from the chairmanship of the RBZ Board in conflict with best practices in Sadc, IMF, World Bank, China, Russia, UK and the world over. The pre-occupation is total and no stone has been left unturned to date to try and achieve this.
31. Is this the policy or policies of the inclusive government to victimise its officials or that of MDC-T to disguise personal wars and camouflage them as national matters of incompetence?
32. There have also been various misrepresentations made to cabinet and cabinet committees by the Hon Minister relating to false allegations of “borrowing US$1 billion without authority” which proved embarrassing to the minister when refuted with evidence.
33. Are the parties (MDC-T) aware that they are being enjoined in a personal war far removed from national issues but financial at personal levels? Are Sadc Heads of State or the facilitator, the IMF/World Bank and others in the picture of this scandal?
34. There is more that I could say and have come up with to prove a case of victimisation against me but it is not necessary to deal with those issues now.
35. Rt Hon Prime Minister, herewith my proposals for the way forward:
(a). That this letter be discussed between yourself and the minister and if you see it fit, failing which I propose that it be brought for discussion in cabinet or parliament or Jomic and, that, I be called upon to testify if need be.
(b). That RBZ be granted autonomy in the current legislative amendments to report to Parliament as recommended by Sadc in its model central bank legislation —— copies of which were sent to the Rt Hon Prime Minister’s Office and not the current Minister of Finance until the Hon Minister renounces his vindictive mission against me.
(c). That the Hon Minister and myself
be invited for discussion with the Rt Hon Prime Minister to iron out the issues I
have raised and to normalise our relationship.
(d). That the governor and team be given/granted immunity/protection at law against victimisation by the ministers, some of whom may have been involved in nefarious/regrettable activities before. Otherwise all RBZ governors will continue to face the same fate that I am facing and experiencing, disguised as national desire to do good yet the reality is that deep down there are personal interests at stake in need of protection.
(e). That a public apology be made to the governor by the Minister of Finance and both MDC-T and MDC parties and their followers be informed that the governor did not “kill” this economy and that he is not a member of Al-Qaeda nor does he deserve to be shot by the “firing squad”. In addition a smart way has to be found to advise the international community of the true facts so that it gives a correct and informed judgement on the governor.