Zimbabwe's Gideon Gono Given Widespread Powers By Mugabe, Now A De Facto Second Finance Minister
Public opinion in Zimbabwe is already being prepared for an unprecedented attack on Finance Minister Tendai Biti (seen above with Mugabe on the day he was sworn in). The humiliation of the Minister of Finance will start perhaps as early as Tuesday, at cabinet, and after Mugabe meets with Morgan Tsvangirai on Monday to demand the firing of the Finance Minister for breaching cabinet protocol by taking "unilateral decisions" on a matter ZANU PF is insisting should have been debated in cabinet and a government position adopted. Gideon Gono is now set to become the de facto Minister of Finance for ZANU PF, given widespread powers by Mugabe's special decrees, which will most likely be secret ones. Mugabe's modus operandi is to spring surprises, have Gono make announcements or decisions that present a de facto position to the Minister of Finance. When Biti asks about the de facto announcements, he will be told by Gono that he (Gono) has authority from the president to do what he would have done. ZANU PF hopes that, in the absence of an MDC walkout from the GNU, Biti would then resign, since he would not be able to do anything to Mugabe
Harare, Zimbabwe, 13 September 2009
Robert "The Solution" Mugabe is so livid with Tendai Biti that he has now taken the position that the Zimbabwe Finance Minister be fired immediately by his principal, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
It emerges that on Friday, Mugabe met with a select group of his Politburo who were demanding that Tendai Biti, and not Gideon Gono, should leave the Finance Department of Zimbabwe's government.
This comes as it emerges that Tendai Biti has now actually written to the International Monetary Fund asking them not to disburse the money that has been allocated to Zimbabwe. The money, known as Special Drawing Rights, had been deposited into the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Account with the Bretton Woods institution and Gono had already started to boast that he was the custodian of those funds.
Of concern to Mugabe and his people is the fact that Biti has written to the IMF without having the matter discussed in cabinet. He now stands accused of usurping the role of cabinet, where Mugabe insists the matter should have been up for discussion and a cabinet resolution adopted.
For the first time in a month, Mugabe is now seeking to create room in a schedule he has been saying is too busy in order to meet with Morgan Tsvangirai for their routine Monday briefings in order to put across the demand.
Impeccable sources in government say that Mugabe does not expect Tsvangirai to actually agree to the demand and that is why a new strategy has now been adopted for dealing with the Zimbabwe Finance Minister, who is away from Harare at the moment.
This strategy is follows:
Gideon Gono is now going to be given special powers by Robert Mugabe to essentially usurp the role of the Finance Minister within Zimbabwe. Mugabe, who still has widespread and dictatorial powers under the GPA and the current constitution, will now essentially issue a "decree" giving Gono leeway to, as ZANU PF sources put it, "look after the interests of the people of Zimbabwe".
The implication is so clear that it is not an implication at all: Tendai Biti and the MDC are not working for "interests of the people" in this GNU.
Of course, the true meaning is that they are now working for the interests of ZANU PF. My sources reveal that Mugabe will now tell Tsvangirai that this is proof that the MDC is still working for a "regime change" agenda.
We are, therefore, now going to see two centres of power within the Inclusive Government Finance Portfolio, with Gideon Gono acting as a de facto Finance Minister for ZANU PF, taking directives from Mugabe and ZANU PF, while Tendai Biti will become a Finance Minister only for the MDC and not for the country.
This decision, taken because Mugabe can not fire Biti and he expects that Tsvangirai will not agree to firing him, will see, internally, Mugabe and Gono gain the upper hand.
"We hope he resigns when the president starts clipping his wings. He did it with Nelson Chamisa (the clipping of wings) and the boy threatened to resign, but he is still here. Biti will be so humiliated that he will wish he had never accepted the post of Finance Minister."
Amongst the strategies to be employed include "enforcing" the peculiar rule that Ministers need cabinet (presidential) approval to travel abroad. In fact, my source reminded me that Winnie Mandela was fired as a Deputy Minister by her former husband, Nelson Mandela, after she travelled to Europe without presidential approval.
Prior to now, Mugabe has left the approval to his Cabinet Secretary, Misheck Sibanda, but I understand now, he will insist that the Constitution gives him the powers to enforce this requirement.
Part of this strategy will see ZANU PF MPs ordered to frustrate the RBZ act in the Zimbabwe parliament in order to make sure that Gono legally retains the leeway to continue as he did before, Acting as de facto Finance Minister for Zimbabwe, under the direct orders of Mugabe.
In the end, as pressure is ramped up by Mugabe, Tsvangirai may well find it too hot in the kitchen.
Already, I have alerted you to the fact that Mugabe has now reneged on the deal he had with Tsvangirai regarding the disputed Information and Communications ministries. He has unilaterally decided to give back control of TelOne, NetOne (phone companies owned by government) to Nicholas Goche, one of his trusted ministers.
Goche has now started making announcements on issues that rightly belong to Nelson Chamisa according to what Mugabe and Tsvangirai in the aftermath of that "disemboweling" of Nelson Chamisa earlier this year.
In terms of a legal argument, Mugabe will probably triumph in his plotting. Unlike Gideon Gono, whose departure the MDC have failed to justify in terms of any breaches he has made, Biti is now being accused of making unilaterally decisions based on his own views and not those of the whole government.
It was certainly a confrontational move he made, sure in the knowledge that Mugabe can not get rid of him. It was designed specifically to thumb his nose at the Zimbabwe dictator.
But it turns out that all will do is accentuate the wide chasm that now separates Mugabe and Tsvangirai's parts of the Inclusive Zimbabwe Government.