THE hysteria in Zanu PF ranks over calls by the two formations of the MDC for Gideon Gono’s re-appointment as Reserve Bank governor to be rescinded was predictable.
It was unfortunate that a number of Zanu PF luminaries including President Robert Mugabe chose the funeral of Gono’s late brother Peter Gono as an occasion to vent their vitriol. Not surprisingly there were thinly veiled threats of violence if calls for Gono’s removal persisted.
Mourners were subjected to eulogies about Gono from Mugabe, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Mashonaland Central governor, Martin Dinha and Air Vice-Marshall Henry Muchena.
The Global Political Agreement (GPA) clearly states that all senior government appointments have to be made with the consent of the three principals, namely Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
These appointments include those of the Reserve Bank governor and Attorney-General. In the post-GPA era, Mugabe cannot make these appointments unilaterally.
This would be in breach of the letter and spirit of the GPA.
Mugabe, to whom the concept of good faith is apparently alien, proceeded to extend Gono’s contract which was due to expire in December 2008 for a full five-year term.
Later he appointed Johannes Tomana as Attorney-General without consulting Mutambara or Tsvangirai. In both cases he breached the GPA and he knows it. This is what the dispute is all about. Although it is an exercise in futility the MDC has every right to refer it to Sadc as the guarantor of the GPA.
To divert attention from the nub of the issue, extraneous matters like the liberation war and the land reform process are now being introduced. This is a smokescreen designed to hide the simple fact that in the cases of Gono and Tomana Mugabe acted outside the terms of the GPA.
To justify their opposition to Gono’s removal they cite his record of success as governor. “He saved the nation from collapse” has become the refrain. He defeated Western attempts to effect regime change through the imposition of sanctions. He is a pillar of the revolution.
No amount of lies, propaganda and threats can hide the indubitable fact of Gono’s abysmal failure as Reserve Bank governor. His politically motivated reckless ventures into areas outside the mandate of a central bank governor accelerated Zimbabwe’s calamitous economic meltdown. What criteria do Gono’s defenders use to assess his record?
One of the most important responsibilities of a Reserve Bank chief is to keep inflation low and protect the value of the national currency. When Gono was first appointed in 2003 the Zimbabwe dollar, though on a precipitous downward trajectory, still had some value. Six years later on Gono’s watch it was officially pronounced dead.
All his efforts at slashing zeros and other gimmicks failed. After years of non-stop printing of money while the economy was shrinking the inevitable happened. The currency was printed to worthlessness. It is common knowledge that a lot of the money Gono printed found its way into the currency black market through an army of shady dealers. This fuelled inflation and eroded the value of the Zimbabwe dollar at an alarming rate.
The Reserve Bank was by far the biggest player on the black market but the authorities saw it fit to arrest and prosecute people who did the same to survive either as individuals or businesses. Some of these people still languish in exile.
When Gono took over the reins at the RBZ inflation was high but had not reached hyperinflationary levels. He called inflation the number one enemy and vowed to “tame the beast”. He flattered to deceive in his first few months by bringing inflation down. But sober economists warned that without tackling the root causes of inflation the battle against it would be lost.
They were proven right. The last time official figures were released in July 2008 inflation stood at 231 million percent. Later it was unofficially estimated at levels of billions and trillions. This is now hailed as success.
Gono usurped functions of cabinet ministers with Mugabe’s sanction. He is praised by his backers for funding the Farm Mechanisation Programme. What were the results? It certainly did not increase agricultural production. Today a large percentage of Zimbabweans are dependent on food aid and agricultural production continues to plummet. But in the Orwellian world that Zanu PF politicians inhabit abject failure and success are synonymous.
Sanctions are now the scapegoat for everything that has gone wrong in Zimbabwe. Yet when Gono took over he did not think that sanctions would be much of a problem. He pompously pronounced repeatedly that “failure is not an option”. He was immediately dubbed the “Saviour” and “Mr Turnaround” by his admirers mesmerised by his televised monetary policy pronouncements.
Parliament and cabinet were marginalised with its members reduced to cheerleaders. Gono’s position as de facto number two to Mugabe was cemented when he became the official dispenser of largesse.Â Even judges got plasma television sets from “your governor”. The few who were not impressed could only sulk in private. They could not afford to openly go against a Messiah who had the total backing of the chef de grande.
Gono had become Mugabe’s Rasputin. Sanctions would be defeated by Gono’s genius. His out-of-the-box brand of economics would see Zimbabwe through hard times. Furthermore, Mugabe’s visionary “Look East Policy” would see billions of dollars worth of investments from China and other parts of Asia flood Zimbabwe.
Planes were dispatched to Beijing and Hong Kong to pick up tourists who could not wait to visit wonderful Zimbabwe. The West could go to hell. After all China the rising superpower was Zimbabwe’s friend. It did not occur to Gono and his master that China and other successful Asian countries were not in the business of bailing out countries which mismanaged their affairs. While the daydreaming went on in Harare the economy was in free fall. The results are plain for all to see.
Yet people are told to stand up and salute Gono.
Advocate Dinha must take credit for uttering a truth that was unfortunately buried in all the garbage that was spewed out. Attacking some Zanu-PF leaders now calling for Gono’s removal he said, “Kunyanya-nyanya veparty yedu, takabatsirwa musangano neReserve Bank,” (Our party was assisted by the Reserve Bank). Gono placed the resources of the Reserve Bank and the state at the disposal of Zanu PF.
Mugabe is fond of saying Gono saved Zimbabwe. What he means is that he saved Zanu PF. But in so doing he destroyed Zimbabwe. This is not to say he was solely responsible but he has a lot to answer for. Not only did he save Zanu PF but he allegedly lined a few pockets of movers and shakers in that party. This explains the loud clamour for his retention.
Gono must do the honourable thing. He must resign. The majority of Zimbabweans have no confidence in him. —— The Zimbabwe Times.