Tendai Biti Reduces Gideon Gono To Tears
Harare, Zimbabwe, 23 September 2009
With apologies to Oscar Wilde, we can call this latest development "The Importance of Being Tendai Biti".
The Reserve Bank was literally in tears yesterday as it told State media that Gideon Gono has "appealed" to the Principals in the Zimbabwe government for them to help unlock the US$510 million that was deposited by the IMF into the Reserve Bank account on 26th August this year.
The money, on which Gideon Gono had already started issuing orders to the IMF, was frozen in that account on the orders of Tendai Biti. He says, in so doing, he has blocked certain elements from abusing the money.
Munyaradzi Kereke, a senior RBZ official who spoke to the state media (on Gono's behalf, it was said), said his boss had asked the Principals to "urgently intervene and unlock the US$510 because not doing so will have serious effects on the economy."
Biti promptly responded yesterday by saying that his statement from last week still stands: that money stays where it is until he drafts a new budget for next year.
What Kereke, a Senior Policy Advisor to Gideon Gono, does not know, is that the Governor and Mugabe have already hatched a plot to clandestinely turn Gono's office into an alternative Finance Ministry, serving ZANU PF interests.
When Mugabe is not at Zvimba, his sprawling, red-tiled compound at his rural birth-place, he likes walking the short distance up the hill in Helensvale to Gideon Gono's own sprawling mansion in the leafy and affluent area.
There, they walk around the gardens, inspecting crops and vegetables.
Gono's workers say a week does not pass by without Mugabe dropping in this way.
But this is an interesting little development, isn't it. Like I said earlier this week, Biti has shown now that he is now one of the most powerful men in Zimbabwe. Certainly more powerful than Morgan Tsvangirai.
The state media also inevitably trotted out Mugabe's line that the Finance Minister is "sabotaging" government operations this way, but it appears even this is not having an effect on Biti.