Monday, April 20, 2009

Zim admits to raiding private bank accounts

Zimbabwe's central bank governor admitted on Monday that he took hard currency from the bank accounts of private businesses and foreign aid groups without permission, saying he was trying to keep his country's cash-strapped ministries running.

In a statement that would be unthinkable coming from most central banks, Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono appeared to be issuing a plea to keep his job in the face of growing criticism. Gono said it was time "to let bygones be bygones" now that Zimbabwe has a new coalition government dedicated to reversing its economic decline.

The central banker said gave the money he took from the hard currency accounts as loans t
o various ministries, and those private accounts would be reimbursed when the ministries repaid the loans. No, this is not a late April fool's joke!

He said the bank's efforts "sustained the country" in its hour of need.

Gono's statement showed the practice was widespread. It was first hinted at last year, when the international aid agency Global Fund threatened to cut off funds to Zimbabwe for fighting Aids, tuberculosis and malaria unless money taken from its account was returned.

The central bank returned $7,3-million to Global Fund. The raiding of foreign currency accounts is just one of the highly questionable actions for which Gono has been sharply criticized.

In the past two years, Gono slashed 25 zeros from the local currency, printed more local money without backup reserves or assets and distributed agricultural equipment to many in President Robert Mugabe's party who were given farms seized from whites.

Gono declared Monday that the criticism of his office had reached "ridiculous dimensions ... in the name of trying to show how evil, unworthy and incompetent the governor is."

"All this is being done to in an effort to show the central bank governor killed the economy single-handedly," his statement said.


"It is even being argued in some circles donors must not put money into the Reserve Bank until the governor is relieved of his duties."

Last year, before a unity government deal was signed in September, Mugabe reappointed Gono to a second five-year term.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's party, the former opposition, objected, saying the power-sharing deal gave it a say in the appointment of key state posts.

Attacks on Gono have stepped up in recent days after he offered about 50 used cars to new lawmakers from both Mugabe's party and its longtime rival, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change.


Controversy over the cars has led to calls for an investigation into central bank operations, ranging from the purchase of its cutlery to businesses that Gono runs on the s
ide.

In his statement Monday, Gono called on lawmakers to return the cars but said the offer was well-meant.
Gono said lawmakers asked for the cars so they could travel across the country to "preach" the message of economic reform and national reconciliation under the coalition formed Feb. 16.

The coalition partners have pledged to work together to confront Zimbabwe's crippling poverty, collapsed utilities and chronic shortages of food and basic goods. An estimated two-thirds of Zimbabweans are in need of food aid and a cholera epidemic has sickened more than 80 000 people and killed more than 4 000 since August.


Zimbabwe's economic crisis has been blamed on a land redistribution campaign that Mugabe began in 2000. The number of white farmers has dropped from about 4 000 to 400, and farms have ended up in the hands of Mugabe cronies.

Mugabe, however, blames Western sanctions for his country's economic woes.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's Economic Minister Elton Mangoma said in Pretoria on Monday his country's economy is speedily recovering under the unity government.

He a
ttributed the recovery to, among other things, institutional changes at the country's Reserve Bank. "The Zimbabwean dollar has been discontinued and we do not expect to see it in the immediate future.

Also there is institutional change at the Reserve Bank," he told reporters.
The Reserve Bank's role was to supervise the financial sector to ensure it functioned properly, he said.

"In the absence of the Zimbabwean dollar, international currencies such as the South African rand and the American dollar were being used."

He said Zimbabwe had already made much progress.

"We have stabilised the economy. Processes of democracy are in place, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association -- all these were not there in the harsh period we experienced in Zimbabwe," he said.

3 Opinion(s):

ThisIsAfrica said...

Good grief, could Mugarbage look more of an ape than he does in that above picture?

Anonymous said...

What's yours is mine, and what's mine is mine, so Whitey shut up.

Loggi said...

ThisIsAfrica. You said it man
Aap se kind