The Zimbabwe Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, (above) is apparently refusing to pay a contractor who did work on his chicken farm in Ruwa the US$22 000 he owes for the job.
The farm, at Tropicana Lodge, used to belong to Frederick Shava, a former ZANU PF cabinet minister. It is not entirely clear just how Gono came to be in possession of this farm. As most of you know, Gono has other farms, including the well-known Donnington Farm.
Information to hand shows that the contractor, Eroku Investments, constructed football-pitch size (100 meters) chicken runs to house Gono's parent stock for his broiler farm business, Luna Chickens. The Managing Director of Tropicana Farm and Luna chickens, the two Gono operations for whom this work was done, has been was given the invoice in November last year at the completion of the work. The contractor has also tried to get Gono's security manager to intercede on his behalf, all to no avail.
The contractor has apparently been refused access to Gono himself in order for him to argue his case for the money which has been outstand for three months now. Gono's chicken business, which is almost exclusively an export operation, is giving him millions of US dollars every month in turnover.
The Reserve Bank governor has now become one of the biggest chicken farmers in Zimbabwe, with his operation churning out a reported output of 900 000 chickens a month. The governor got into serious chicken farming business after taking over the former Crest Breeders franchise in Zimbabwe, previously owned by the Zimbabwe Agricultural giant corporation, CFI, who dropped the Crest Breeders licence and now operate the Hubbard Franchise in Zimbabwe.
Foto, Gono's manager at Tropicana Farm, apparently used to be the Chief Executive Officer at Crest Breeders.
The contractor, who is now facing a rebellion from workers that he has not paid as well as suppliers of materials used in the construction of the Chicken houses, is now afraid that he may be on the way to complete and utter ruin, especially as it is suspected that the manager of Tropicana, this Mr Foto, may be making plans to leave the country.
It is not clear why Gono refuses to pay up. He certainly has the money.
In Harare, for instance, he lives on the same road as Robert Mugabe in Helensvale. On the hill beyond Mugabe's mansion, which is where teh governor lives, he has also built a massive complex of face-brick cluster homes which he rents out at an average of US$1000 per house per month. Just looking at the complex from the meticulously maintained Carrick Creagh Road (which Mugabe uses daily to go from his house to State House for work - apparently he now detests Munhumutapa Building, the Presidential office Building in Central Harare and only shows up there on Tuesdays for the Cabinet meeting), Gono's complex is easily around 30 houses strong.
The workers at that Helensvale plot, a minute's drive from Mugabe's suburban fortress, say that the president regularly visits and always inspects Gono's crops and gardens with the Governor whenever he drops by.
Gono himself is currently presenting the Monetary Policy for the First Quarter of 2009, which is expected to complement Chinamasa's budget, delivered last week Thursday.
I will give you details of the policy later on today.