"I Am In Charge Of IMF Funds" - Gideon Gono

Gideon Gono came out fighting this weekend, rubbing it in to Tendai Biti by insisting that he, as the Reserve Bank (above) Governor, is not only the "custodian" but also the "disburser" of the funds. He is signalling that the money will remain in his control and he will be the one in charge of giving it out and how it is given out. Government is relegated to the role of simply identifying "areas" of priority. With the fighting currently going on and Mugabe's continued choke hold on the country, it is as good as done as the MDC ministries, much as they may make noise, will certainly have no impact.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 06 September 2009

Gideon Gono, the Governor of Zimbabwe's Central Bank, i in fighting mood this weekend.

Provocatively, Gono told the media yesterday that he as the Reserve Bank Governor, is "custodian and disburser" of that US$400 million from the International Monetary Fund.

He said that his "principals" would decide who exactly gets what and he would be the one to dish it out and set the conditions for dishing it out to the beneficiaries.

This is basically setting up the stage for a fight with Tendai Biti, whose statement to the international media that Zimbabwe could not take the money because it could not afford to repay it, we can now dismiss.

Mugabe and Gono have made it clear this weekend that the money stays.

Gono also said at the weekend that he would be happy to give some of the money out "to fund certain provisions of Minister Biti's STERP"!

So, he would be happy to dish some of his largesse to Tendai Biti, the Minister of Finance!! Like I said, it was provocative.

In reporting on the matter, the government owned media is very careful to stress that the receipt of the money from the IMF "was announced by Reserve Bank Governor Dr Gideon Gono."

There is going to be, as I said, a dogfight over control of these funds, but I think recent events show us that Mugabe and Gono will win out in the end. The MDC in government simply does not have any cards to play and it is almost certain that some of this money will be diverted for ZANU PF purposes.

This is much more so with Gono insisting that he is in charge of the funds.

The strategy is quite clear from this early in the process:

The MDC, new to government, has no governmental programmes that it has set up itself, like ZANU PF.

Mugabe's party, on the other hand, has spread its tentacles into every sphere of governance and even service delivery in Zimbabwe. Government-owned companies like ZESA, the power utility, are entirely staffed by ZANU PF loyalists, who owe their positions to Mugabe's party and in some cases are even active members of that party.

You can rest assured that some of the money is going to go these companies in order to allow them to "revitalise" the economy.

It will go the way of other projects.

Do you recall Mugabe launching with fanfare a project to plant acres upon acre of the Jatropha plant (how easily gullible Zimbabweans are, and how short their memories!)?

It was announced that huge sums of money had been given to the project to get it to kick off.

Yet, it later transpired after the March elections that there were no acres of Jatropha plants that had been announced almost a year before. Instead, government officials now admitted openly that all they could find of one such project were two plants!

That matter has died a quiet death. No one has since asked what all the money (running into millions of US dollars) given for this project has been used for if there are barely 100 trees of the Jatropha in the project areas.

ZANU PF now boasts that all they have done is ensure that the MDC join the gravy train. As long as they are promised that some of their own supporters will benefit from the abuses of funds, they will be happy.

This is what the dishing out out of posts along political lines is all about, after all.

The MDC has failed to appoint a single independent technocrat to any of the posts it is entitled to under the GPA, which is something that a person truly committed to changing the fortunes of the party would do.

It is like, say, in the United States, where you will see a new administration going to Wall Street to get a Chief Executive of a major Finance House there to be Chairman of the Federal Reserve or to be Treasury Secretary.

Instead of seeking the best and the brightest in each particular industry, the new partners in government are following the ZANU PF way and appointing politicians into posts, taking activists and putting them in charge of technical matters.

No wonder there is no recovery.

The way things are going now, I can assure you that even this money from the IMF, which is enough only to cover half of the national budget for this year, will disappear into a black hole.

Two factors will be at play as this money goes down the drain without an improvement in the state of our roads, water delivery system, power shortages or even revival of industrial production.

These are:

  • The MDC is, even now, unsure of its own future. Since Morgan Tsvangirai has said repeatedly that his party will "sink or swim" together with ZANU PF, his officials will also be looking to feather their nests. They will be looking to gorge themselves while they can, because they may find themselves back in the streets before long.
  • ZANU PF, by the same token, is also full of people who believe that their party is seeing the sunset of its life. Led and held together by an 85 year old man who can kick the bucket at any time, they will also be clamouring to ensure that they do at least walk away with something.
There is a reason why government is the biggest employer in Zimbabwe. In fact it is the only industry still employing excess capacity, paying militant youths to this day despite hollow promises of an audit from Tendai Biti.

But the politicians know their people very well.

They know that all they need to do is "announce the intention" and then do nothing about it and it will soon be forgotten and Zimbabweans have a habit of mistaking announcement of the intention for actual implementation.

Even MDC supporters are no different here. Look at how they celebrated "the intention" by Mugabe to swear in Roy Bennett and Governors at "the end of August 2009".

They were ecstatic. But where are we now?

It is the song of Zimbabwean politics and the hype around the money from the IMF will put forward all sorts of intentions, but no one will ever be held accountable for failure to deliver it. No explanation will be given for this.

The MDC and Tsvangirai are as bad as Mugabe and ZANU PF on this.

Just look at the so-called 100-day plan. Tsvangirai admitted publicly in Nyanga at its review that it had failed "dismally". The people of Zimbabwe have still to get a report or an explanation on why this is so.

There were things in it that did not need money and yet even these failed to take off and no explanation is forthcoming.


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