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.