Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gonohad become the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front’s poster boy for corruption and financial mismanagement, former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said barely a month after the swearing in of the inclusive government.
According to a diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks, McGee said this after meeting Finance Minister Tendai Biti, Industry Minister Welshman Ncube and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Gorden Moyo.
They were complaining that the continued presence of Gono at the central bank complicated chances of getting assistance.
Biti said that he was seeking a US$300 million line of credit for private businesses and short-term budgetary support from South Africa but he had been told by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel that Zimbabwe would not get the money as long as Gono remained in the picture.
Ncube said when he discussed credit facilities with the business sector he was told that recovery of a collective total of US$204 million frozen at the RBZ would be as important as credit.
When he took up the issue with Gono he was told that the money was gone. The Joint Operations Command had ordered him to use the money for the March elections in a letter of indemnity signed by then Minister of Security Didymus Mutasa.
Moyo said Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai had come up with a multi-pronged approach to get rid of Gono. This included putting pressure on President Robert Mugabe, using the Southern African Development Community and marginalising him.
Viewing cable 09HARARE184, GIDEON GONO MUST GO–BUT HOW?
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E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/04/2019
SUBJECT: GIDEON GONO MUST GO–BUT HOW?
Classified By: Ambassador James D. McGee for reason 1.4 (d)
¶1. (C) Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor Gideon Gono
has become the ZANU-PF poster boy for corruption and
financial mismanagement. The MDC realizes that Gono’s
presence at the RBZ complicates possibilities of assistance
to Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has told the
Ambassador on numerous occasions that Gono’s exit from the
scene is one of his top priorities.
¶2. (C) Minister of Finance Tendai Biti told us March 3 that
he had been in continuing discussions with South African
authorities and was seeking a US$300 million line of credit
for private businesses and short-term budgetary support.
While South African President Motlanthe and Foreign Minister
Dlamini Zuma were sympathetic, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel
and Reserve Bank Governor Mboweni were opposed. Manuel
appeared to be softening on lines of credit, but he had made
clear his aversion to financial support to Zimbabwe as long
as Gono remained in the picture. (COMMENT: Manuel’s
reluctance may be due to the reported misuse and waste of a
South African R300 million agricultural support package to
Zimbabwe for the summer growing season. END COMMENT.) Biti
commented that Gono’s quasi-fiscal activities and illegal
supplying of forex to ZANU-PF insiders had affected the new
government’s credibility and that it was important he leave
¶3. (C) Minister of Industry Welshman Ncube spoke with us on
March 4 and concurred with Biti that Gono was a liability.
He recounted that he had met recently with representatives of
a number of large businesses to discuss credit facilities.
They told him that recovery of a collective total of US$204
million frozen at the RBZ would be as important as credit.
Ncube took up the issue with Gono who told him the money was
gone. The Joint Operations Command (JOC) had ordered him to
use the money for the March election in a letter of indemnity
signed by then Minister of Security Didymus Mutasa. Noting
that ZANU-PF was wont to protect its own, Ncube doubted
strongly that Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe would agree
to his removal. He said the alternative was to marginalize
Gono by eliminating RBZ quasi-fiscal activities.
¶4. (C) According to Gordon Moyo, Minister of State in the
Prime Minister’s Office, the MDC has a multi-pronged strategy
with respect to Gono. Tsvangirai will continue to argue to
Mugabe that Gono’s reappointment last year was in violation
of the Inter-Party Agreement of September 15, and that it was
in violation of the Reserve Bank Act which requires the
president to appoint the governor after consultation with the
finance minister. Arguably at the time there was no legally
appointed finance minister since Mugabe had dissolved cabinet
before the March elections. Tsvangirai will next appeal to
SADC in its role as a guarantor of the September 15 agreement
to prevail upon Mugabe to dismiss Gono. Finally, in an
effort to put pressure on Mugabe, Biti will seek, as he has
Qeffort to put pressure on Mugabe, Biti will seek, as he has
already done, to marginalize Gono, and Parliament will
initiate an inquiry into Gono’s illegal activities.
¶5. (C) Gono’s continuing position at the RBZ is a powerful
symbol of the absence of ZANU-PF good faith. The MDC has
rightly pressed for his exit, but we are skeptical he will go
soon. END COMMENT.