A cable released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks recently says Gono met the then US Ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee in 2008 and confided in him that he had talked to the late Vice-President Joseph Msika and others who wanted Mugabe removed by September of the same year.
The two met in July 2008, when Zanu PF was negotiating a power-sharing agreement with the two MDC formations. “Gono said Mugabe was physically weak,” says the cable. “Despite a strong public face, he had difficulty getting out of his chair.”
During the meeting, Gono requested for “soft landing” from the Americans in the event that Zanu PF dumped him. The cable says Gono added that in a new government, he was hoping to be a minister in charge of finance, economic development, and policy formulation.
“He would also become a member of the Zanu PF politburo,” said the cable. In 2009, Gono was co-opted to the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial executive as secretary for finance but quickly chickened out after protests from several quarters.
Trying to hedge his bets, says the cable, Gono asked the ambassador for help in arranging a “soft landing” in the event that Zanu PF in-fighting left him outside of government.
He said he wanted to do the “right thing”. But McGee suggested to him that “the right thing might be to walk away now from the RBZ and the government”.
Gono responded that he felt an obligation “to continue to work for his family and his country”. According to the cable, Gono continued his attempt to cultivate a relationship with the ambassador in the hope that the US would support him if he got into power in a new government or provide him with a “soft landing” if he ended up outside.
“He has occasionally provided us with useful information and has been of assistance, e.g, when embassy officials were held up at a roadblock during a pre-election trip and when an American was held incommunicado following the March 29 election,” says the cable.
Gono was however accused of failing to demonstrate an inclination to help his fellow Zimbabweans.
The RBZ boss was considered one of the powers behind the throne, along with Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief Constantine Chiwenga, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri, Air Marshall Perrance Shiri, Zimbabwe Prisons Services prisons chief Paradzai Zimondi and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.