Gideon Gono Spends US$215 000 on "Food"
Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono (above), is still operating pretty much as though he were the de facto Prime Minister he was before the formation of the coalition Government between Morgan Tsvangirai and Robert Mugabe.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 07 February 2010
Senior staff at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, headed by Mugabe's blue-eyed boy, Gideon Gono, have spent US$215 000 on food in the last month, with the money having been authorised by officials in Tendai Biti's Ministry of Finance.
Biti is also the MDC-Tsvangirai Secretary-General.
The Minister claims that this expenditure is being made without his knowledge and that he is being "circumvented"!
Gono has been emboldened by Biti's failure to have him fired. Mugabe has personally and publicly said "Gono is not going anywhere, show me what wrong he has done."
Quite a lot of wrong, he as done, it turns out. Recently, as Tendai Biti toured the world, going to America to lobby Congressmen to remove sanctions on Mugabe, touring the European Union etc, Gono, whose Reserve Bank is now starved of cash since all his money-making avenues were closed by Treasury (Finance Ministry), raided the statutory reserves deposited with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe by local banks to pay "bills".
The money plundered by Gono is reported to be in the region of "millions" and some of it is accounted for by a cryptic line item that refers to "the Presidency".
Meantime, a British newspaper is only discovering now what I have been telling you all along: that Mugabe pays allowances of anything up to US$5 000 to his CIO operatives when they guard him on his overseas travels.
The latest revelation appears to have been a leak from the Finance Ministry to the British newspaper after Happyton Bonyongwe, Director-General of the Central Intelligence Organisation, submitted a bill to the Ministry for the payment of allowances. These were specifically for Mugabe's trip to Switzerland for a Telecommunications Summit (the same one attended by MDC's Spokesman and Minister of ICT in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa).
The new boys in government, the MDC, have cottoned on and are also being compromised by Mugabe: they are also getting these ridiculous figures as daily allowances when they travel abroad, hence the rush by MDC ministers to jump on a plane whenever there is Summit that falls under their purview.
With the salaries of Ministers no different from those of normal civil servants, who are now on strike over the issue, these Ministers are using trips outside Zimbabwe to augment their earnings.
Mugabe has been a master at the game for a long time, carrying cash personally out of the country and never accounting for it when he comes back from his trip.
It is a form of corruption that has now also infected the MDC ministers. Their attitude is: :If you can not beat them, join them."
It does not bode well for the future of Zimbabwe. Should these people, with these new bad habits they have learnt, get into government, they will naturally pick up from where ZANU PF would have left off, justifying it by saying Mugabe used to do it when he ran the country. The MDC is already very intolerant of criticism, even when it admits corruption itself within its ranks.
But it is the continued profligacy of Gideon Gono that makes one's jaw drop. It is almost as if he is sticking a finger to Tendai Biti and the MDC, actively pursuing a policy of spending ridiculous amounts of money of trivial things just so he can show them they have not managed to contain him at all.