Gideon Gono and Robert Mugabe in a warehouse where Gono had stashed basic commodities as part of his quasi-fiscal operations, which are now threatening his job. This was a couple weeks after the bloody June 27 presidential election run-off, during which Gono also provided cars and funds to ZANU PF for their murderous campaign
Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono has thrown the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe staff into panic and despair.
Earlier today, Gono ordered all RBZ staff to surrender their vehicles and park them at the Reserve Bank Sports Club along Sherwood Road in Malbereign in Harare. This directive applies to all staff except Directors and Senior Managers at the RBZ.
Most of the staff are in despair because these were their only means of transport and, as Zimbabweans know very well now, staff at the Central Bank have also not been paid their salaries because Tendai Biti has managed to cut off all revenue-generating schemes that Gono had prior to the Inclusive Government's inception.
The staff at the RBZ say they feel terrorised by Gono.
More importantly, though, this move betrays the fact that the cars given to parliamentarians have not been returned.
Because these cars that will be surrendered by RBZ employees today are being offered by Gono to even more MPs. Not all MPs got cars the first time around, so Gono is now telling the legislators that he has even more cars for those MPs who did not benefit from the first round of his patronage.
Clearly, Gono is trying to thumb his nose at the Minister of Finance and he is clearly playing with fire.
Mugabe, you will notice, has not come out publicly to say anything about Gono. He has refused to grant Tsvangirai and Biti their wish of firing Gono immediately, it now emerges, not because he still suppports the Governor, but more because of his own pride.
The issue now is only about Mugabe's authority and Gono is benefiting by proxy.
However, as I told you earlier this year when the Tsvangirai and Biti first demanded Gono's head just after the GNU was formed, Mugabe had told them that they should not use past deeds of Gono (his financing of ZANU PF's bloody presidential run-off) to oust him.
He had demanded that they show whether he would be insubordinate to the new dispensation or had committed any crimes.
Well, it appears that the RBZ staff are now bringing out the cans of worms.
Apparently, there is currently a fleet of brand new Toyota Hilux Vigos and Isuzu KB twin-cabs parked at BAK storage in Harare which were imported by Gono.
The keys to these cars have now been confiscated by ZIMRA, the revenue authority in Zimbabwe, because Gono was refusing to pay taxes on them. He had reached a stage, basically, where he thought he was above the law.
As one source pointed out to me, avoidance of taxes is a "cardinal sin". And so it is. The Governor, who all along has sought to convince us that he occupies a moral high ground, who denied for ages that he buys foreign currency on the black market, is refusing to pay taxes on cars that he imported?
Does he still seek to lead us to believe he is blameless when we now know that one of the MPs acting as his cheerleaders made a lot money through getting bagfuls of freshly printed Zimbabwe dollars, which he used to purchase foreign currency on the black market for Gideon Gono and the Reserve Bank?
Does he still think he occupies a moral high ground? I think not.
Tendai Biti told Cabinet that Gono was running a parallel government. The extent to which he was doing this can be illustrated by the following example I got from a source today:
When Leonard Tshumba left RBZ, he had 600 employees at the Central Bank. Now, Gono has expanded the staff complement at the Reserve Bank to 6000. That's right, the staff complement at the RBZ is now 6000.
What on earth was he doing with all these people? What on earth, in fact, is he doing with them still.
Anyway, the real story here today is that the Governor is now seeking to aggravate the Finance Minister further by offering even more cars to even more MPs.
Morgan Tsvangirai, of whom I said earlier that he is nothing if not doggedly determined, appears to still want to pursue the man and his angle is still that economic recovery is impossible with Gono at the Central Bank.
On the other hand, like I told you before, it is clear that Gono is being left to swing by ZANU PF. Have you heard a single "heavyweight" in ZANU PF speaking up on his behalf? Have you heard a single ZANU PF minister defending him?
He only has this one MP whom he bought with bags of Zimbabwe dollars used to purchase forex on the balck market!
We are set for interesting times ahead.