African business, politics and lifestyle
Is Zimbabwe’s Gono going?
The acknowledgement by Zimbabwe’s central bank governor that it raided the private bank accounts of companies and donors to fund President Robert Mugabe’s government during the economic crisis has increased speculation over his fate under the new national unity government.
Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said the central bank took foreign currency from private accounts to help pay for some $2 billion in loans to state-owned companies and utilities and for power and grain imports. He said the government still had to repay about $1.2 billion, so the bank could repay the money it owes.
Heading the central bank at a time Zimbabwe was suffering economic collapse and hyperinflation that touched at least 231 million percent a year (according to official figures) was never going to be a badge of honour for the governor, but as he made clear in his statement, Zimbabwe’s problems went beyond economics.
“It was a political problem and not an economic one that drove us into the difficulties this nation experienced, and quasi-fiscal operations were a response to those political challenges we have now resolved through the inclusive government,” the statement said. “Our call is to let bygones be bygones and for everyone and every entity to start anew and open a new page.”
Gono has come under pressure from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to resign since the former opposition party joined Mugabe in a unity government in February. Western diplomats have also said Gono’s departure could help bring a resumption of badly needed aid.
Are his days numbered now Tsvangirai and Mugabe seem to be working together more closely than many might have expected?