How Gono Corrupted The "Independent" Media & Stole Government Funds

House of Horrors: Seen here is the entrance to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, with an appropriately torn-up ZANU PF campaign poster in the foreground. It has now emerged that Gideon Gono has not only given money to the independent media, but he has also bought a journalist at one of the independent newspapers a house, throwing objectivity into the dustbin. On Gono, therefore, the public no longer has a watchdog in the mainstream media

Several impeccable sources are now confirming that the Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, has essentially put all the media in his back pocket.

Gono allegedly bought a house in Bulawayo for a reporter on the staff of the Zimbabwe Independent, owned by Trevor Ncube and all the stories on him that are published in that paper are written by Kumbirai Nhongo, the former Business Editor of Zimbabwe Television, who is Gono's spokesman at the Reserve Bank.

These stories are then given a byline belonging to a staffer on the The Independent. I spoke to my friend Vincent Kahiya, the editor of the Independent about this ealier this morning and he says the paper did apply for BACCOSSI money but he does not know whether they got it or not. The application would have been handled by Raphael Khumalo, the Group's Managing Director.

I do know that Trevor Ncube is perhaps the only newspaper owner in this country who genuinely lives by the creed of Editorial independence and never interferes in the workings of his editorial teams. So it could well be that he does not even know of the goings-on here.

In another shocking show of just how wide Gono had spread his patronage tentacles, it is also emerging that the Governor gave BACCOSSI money to the Zimbabwe Independent as well as The Financial Gazette. Gono owns the Gazette.

Immediately after the Financial Gazette got these BACOSSI funds, Gono apparently went to the paper's management and asked for all of it to be paid back to him personally, saying that the paper owed him dividends. I understand the management had no option but to hand over a large part of those funds.

Effectively, then, it means Gono paid himself personally through the Gazette on the pretext of giving the paper government funds to keep their operations going.

This information is thrown sharply into the spotlight today when you look at the way the Zimbabwe Independent covers Gono's battle with Tendai Biti in today's issue of the paper, effectively rallying to Gono's cause in his fight against Biti.

The Indy reports that there was pandemonium in cabinet on Tuesday when Tendai Biti moved a motion in the cabinet meeting to have Gono investigated for borrowing more than five billion United States dollars between 2004 and 2008.

The same story confirms what I told you yesterday about ZANU PF "heavyweights" being opposed to the Governor and failing to defend him in his battle against the Finance Minister.

It emerges in that story that Biti was openly suppported in his proposal to investigate Gono by  Herbert Murerwa, Saviour Kasukuwere (known to friends as Tyson), Francis Nhema and Sithembiso Nyoni.

Mugabe apparently opposed the proposal in cabinet. He was supported in this by Mnangagwa, Mumbengegwi, Didymus Mutasa and  Stan Mudenge.

Mugabe told Biti that he had no right to investigate Gono and that he would not approve such a move. According to the Independent, Mugabe said any moves to do this would result in the collapse of the Inclusive Government.

Tellingly, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai remained absolutely silent throughout the exchanges and did not speak up at all to support Tendai Biti's quest.

But I think the real story of the day here is the fact that Gono has managed to get all of Zimbabwe's media into his pocket. This corrupt and decietful man is now calling in those favours, it appears, and the Independent itself also carries a story today entitled "Hyprocrisy Over Reserve Bank Cars Exposed".

The article seeks to paint ministers and others as being hypocritical because they have more than one car each from Gono while they are insisting that MPs should return the vehicles that the Governor gave them.

I am afraid Gono has compromised these ministers and the paper lists Prados, Toyota Fortuners and others as cars given to these ministers by the Governor.

Nelson Chamisa apprently not only got a Prado (4x4) but is also driving a Mercedes Benz ML320, a very sleek and luxurious all-wheel drive.

Others who got Prados include: Herbet Murerwa, Theresa Makone, Henry Dzinotyiwei, Fidelis Mhashu, Ignatious Chombo, Welshman Ncube, Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga, Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and Senate President Edna Mdzongwe.

What you see happening now is that Gono is calling in his favours, if these allegations of funding newspapers are anything to go by.

In a democracy, the subverting of independent critical voices is an unforgivable sin for all who believe in freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It compromises the public's watchdogs and makes it impossible to hold public officials to account.

Gono, by buying influence with the papers, is essentially buying public opinion and this is a subversion of democracy.

The sooner this man goes the better. He has to be chased out of town and if this government is to collapse because of that, as Mugabe threatened in his Tuesday cabinet meeting, then so be it. 


  1. To Denford

    This is what i call investigative journalism.

    Denford i read your blog every day and i believe you are the only person who reports to international standards you name and shame the culprits not only refering to "some ministers" .

    I will make your life easier the former journo who has become so rich is through GONO Makosini Hlongwane and Pastor Musakwa yes you had it from me .



  2. I don’t agree with the notion that we should let one person take the fall for everyone and then we somehow convince ourselves that we have done the right thing. Go back a few weeks to your article about the most powerful people in Zimbabwe. For these people like Charamba the RBZ was like an ATM. Where are all these other names of the ‘elite’. They deserve the same persecution. The $5 Billion didn’t end up in one pocket.

    Like you said the future of the inclusive government probably rests on the ‘immunity’ of people like Gono.

  3. Thanks Denford for your insightful revelations. I truly believe that the awards that you have received are well deserved. This issue you raise is very important indeed & it appears to include some internet publications. Rumours have been doing the rounds for ages that the editor of a prominent internet “copy & paste” newspaper has been on Gono's pay roll for a while. The newspaper in question made an alarming & dramatic change in their editorial policy during the run up to the last elections to become virtually another Herald in all but name. I am a fervent believer in freedom of speech, the independence of the media & differences of opinion so they are free to publish they feel within the law. But the abrupt change in this paper’s slant was rather alarming as both the casual & avid reader alike could see that it was now parroting Zanu PF & GONO’s agenda. It soon became a forum for MDC-T bashing & the propagation of the idea that Zimbabwe was under siege from Western sanctions that were causing untold suffering & as such, people could not blame the Zanu PF government for its ruinous policies. This same paper even went on to suggest that, the likes of Jestina Mukoko et al were not victims of Mugabe's tyranny and as such deserved everything that they got. The paper’s editor (as he then was) though based in the UK, would never publish any news of Zimbabwean activism in the UK & even went as far as suggesting that most if not all Zimbabweans in the UK are “fake asylum seekers” who are hell bent on tarnishing the image of their country in a bid to satisfy their personal agenda of economic refugees at the expense of the nation. Whilst this may be true for some people, it is however unfair, if not, dangerous to tar everybody with the same brush. The Zimbabwe Virgil & Zimbabwean demonstrations at Downing Street, Parliament Square etc were largely ignored & so were any MDC-T events by this paper. When I label this paper "copy & paste" journalism, I am referring to the many articles that will appear that would have uncanny resemblance to articles that will have appeared in the state media or other papers & blogs only for them to say their source is "our reporter". Who was that reporter & why will they not put his/her name to the article? One need only go through the Editorials in that paper & it will become evident that a hidden hand somewhere at some point started to direct what should be reported. It's a great shame when journalists who are supposed to be the eyes & ears of the nation start feeding off corruption. What greed! What arrogance I say! To make matters worse the paper would take it upon itself to edit certain comments/contributions made by readers not because they were libelous or criminal, but because they either exposed the paper for what they really stood for or simply that the comments did not meet the direction set by their principles. Sometimes one would read an article, leave a comment only for you to come back later to find that either your comment has been edited, removed altogether or the article itself has been “re-edited” to nullify any observations that readers will have made. If readers questioned the credibility of any of their sources & contributors, they were often met with a stern & humiliating rebuke by the editor & his cronies some of whom were subsequently exposed as fraudsters, criminals or holders of dubious qualifications (examples & names can be provided). I do not have any axe to grind here, but it is such people that do our good nation a disservice & propagate corruption, poor governance & accountability by public officials.

  4. I urge you to read and reread, study and restudy your postings on Gono. Unlike most of your postings they are more hysterical than analytical.
    True they are laced with investigative journalism but the analytical content is severely slanted against the man. It is true that the man is no angel. However, I believe that any discourse on the Gono saga should take into consideration the following issues:
    1. Gono's formal mandate vis a vis his informal mandate as defined by his principals. I believe there is a vast gulf between what the public expected from Gono as the custodian of the monetary domain, and what his principal required of him.
    I believe Gono's raison de etre at the bank was to help whether the sanctions storm. This did not call for a prosaic approach to monetary governance. The purists will slaughter the man because they expected the man to preside over the economy according to proven economic principles. However, his principals did not expect that from him. Whereas his report card makes for an abysmal reading in the minds of the public, his principals probably believe that it was superlative.
    2.Without Gono's activities the contour of the Zimbabwean problem would have shaped out differently. The Zanu pf government would have collapsed and with it the economy. Many people especially in the opposition and the West hate Gono because he,by and large, prevented this from happening. However, Gono's greatest contribution to the country is not sustaining ZAnu pf but in preventing the emergence of the monster that was waiting in the lurch in the event of the collapse of the government and the economy. Zanu pF, in power has been characterized as a monster but believe you me,any collapse of the Zanu pf establishment before the inclusive government would have spawned a more nefarious and vicious monster. Without Gono Zimbabwe would have turned out far worse than Somalia.
    3.What is currently obtaining in the Zimbabwe body politic is a proxy war being fought between the parties to the inclusive government. Gono, willingly or unwillingly, will be the pawn in that battle. The two parties will avoid striking direct blows at one another but will instead strike at Gono. The MDC will percieve a Gono demise as a knock out punch for Morgan against Mugabe. Obviously Mugabe is alert to this fact.
    4. Gono has probably not made any new enemies since the inclusive government. The Zanu pf voices that have now reached a crescendo against him, have probably been muted whispers waiting for an opportunity and a mega phone. In Biti they have found a cheer leader. Most importantly ZANU PF voices have not called for the lynching of Gono in public. It is interesting that you note that not heavy weight on the Zanu pf side has defended Gono publicly, but remember that to date no heavy weight or even lightweight has of late called for Gono's head. The Zanu pf voices against Gono are not coming from free market advocates or defenders of monetary prudence. These voices are a logical outcrop of the intractable Zanu pf succession politics.
    Biti's hatred for Gono is legendary, but he also has the privilege of hiding behind principle. He was not there when Gono was given deit like powers to drive the economy. The Zanu pf voices were conveniently mute at the time therefore they neither have moral nor intellectual arguements to offer now.
    4. Our fixation with Gono betrays our collective desperation and to some extend our hanker for vengeance. The RBZ is one of many institutions that need renewal and re-orientation. Our focus should not be on the principals in these institutions but the principles by which these institutions are run. It is possible to get Gono's head and lose the nation. Rather than straining our eyes on individuals, the focus should be on national strategic objectives. In the long run it may be better for the opposition to lose the Gono battle and save the nation.
    5. The current slug-fest between Gono and others is not furthering the interests of Zimbabwe. Yes, points are being scored but progress is not being made. Anger, vengeance and bitterness are weak governing strategies.
    6. There are no angels in this whole saga. No one, absolutely no one can claim moral high ground. The nation has some very difficulty decisions to make. The Gono issue is one of them. It is imperative that we collectively abandon and sacrifice short termism and coalesce our energies on the larger picture. Who did wrong will never be as important as what went wrong. The blame game is not the same as the solutions game. Zimbabwe is an open sore that needs healing, and that will not be achieved by lynching our fellow country men. What is needed is redress and not vengeance.

  5. @ Mr Charamba, I think the argument should not be let's NOT investigate Gono. Rather it should be "let's investigate EVERYONE".

    We should decide quickly if we are going to have a Healing process that involves the investigation of everybody on both sides.

    This way, what went wrong and who went wrong can be established.

    Simply because a thief was starving does not make them innocent for stealing in the eyes of the law.

    It may mitigate, but does not expunge the guilt.

    So, let us open the whole can of worms. But whatever happens, the corruption of public media is heinous, unconscionable and a moral crime for which an example will have to made.

    It should never, ever, ever happen again in Zimbabwe. Ever.

  6. Hi Denford,
    I noticed that you mistook me for George Charamba. I count that as a compliment,because like him or hate him, you can fault his zeal and intellect.
    I used to read his articles under the Manheru column as I also read yours. In my opinion you are basically doing the same job but for different principals. I have not been able to access his columns ever since he terminated the manheru column. Although you differ markedly in orientation, you both approach your work with a certain degree of thoroughness and frankness which makes your contributions enjoyable.
    Turning to the discussion at hand, the major import of my thesis is that we need to strike a balance between excessive obsession with the past and the need to move forward. We can build a monument to our shameful past or choose to learn from it and build institutions that will eternally stand in stark enormity as edifices of a new dispensation.
    There are those that strongly believe that everything and everyone should be investigated and called to account.I do not despise this view. It is probably morally correct.
    However, I have a different view. I believe that what we need now is not necessarily moral correctness. We need greatness.
    No matter how grandiose or rugged the view is, no driver can successful navigate forwards by fixing his eyes in the rare view mirror.The past is gone. We can not change it or ressurect it, but we can and should learn from it.Our vision for the future should be sharper than our memories of the past. Building a nation calls for sacrifices and compromises; magnanimity and humility, level headedness and strength of character in equal measure.
    The new dispensation promises to transport Zimbabwe out of its long night of misery. However, the danger lies in that we may miss this opportunity by majoring on minors, and minoring on majors. Who is wrong and the extend of their culpability should be a peripheral issue. The great question of our generation is-How can we from these ashes build a phoenix that will forever stand tall. There is no one with all the answers. Blogs like yours are contributing by stimulating dabate on these and other issues.

  7. Hi Den, This really gets interesting, I mean reading through George's thoughts.That school of thought that GG did his best under the circumstances will not get us anywhere Denford.It is plain tragic and will certainly hold this nation to ransom in much the same manner as that same body politik that is us as Zimbabweans have avoided confronting our problems and solving them head-on in the past. We keep postponing taking hard decision on the false hope that the problem will somehow disappear by the time we wake up tomorrow! It won't, George, unless by buying time the junta is busy preparing its schedule of "accidents" and abductions that might end up eliminating those "included" guys, this nation is headed for more pain while only those that believe the great governor gideon gono's demise should be postponed,keep enjoying their ill-gotten gains. This guy has always believed he was the smartest and smoothest operator with his policy of getting the media on his side since his days at CBZ.Ask anybody who has an inside knowledge of his tenure there from 1995 up to his departure.The much talked about "turnaround" there was just another hoax as the ABSA guys found out during their due diligence exercise(there might be need to carry out further investgations so that the nation at large can be informed into what eventually happened to an entity that was hived off from the main CBZ around 1997 and became CBZ Nominees, and whether all the bad loans it inherited were ever paid). All those guys like Sunsley Chamunorwa, Mutizwa, Supa were beneficiaries of GGGG's much vaunted PR skills to keep the media guys un check through loans granted by CBZ. I am not saying they may not have been good enough to qualify for loans but all I am confirming is your scoop about how he got all these guys on side and in this case, just like in the case of Goebbels in the Third Riech, full credit to his PR skills. It was only with GGGG that we started getting Dead BC/TV beaming live coverages of MPS's supplements in state papers and a lot of hogwash on what now the nation has come to realise was all a big cover-up of a massive fraud and the deepening of an unsatiable national looting exercise which will not stop with a change of government.It is time we must all stand as a nation and say enough is enough. This man should have been the first to convince his principal, the great dictator that his time was up. If he had the high moral ground he would have handed in his resignation and politely told Mugabe that he wished to devote all his energies to managing his (Mugabe's)own financial affairs, which Zimbabweans have now come to know,have grown so much over the years,almost proportionately to how much the nation's wealth has shrunk. Let all the truth come out, Denford

  8. @ George Moyo,
    You are very right, No one can doubt George Charamba's intellect. One of the sharpest brains Zimbabwe has. He is an asset to Zimbabwe. The guy is just brilliant.


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