ZANU PF Attempts To Implement Gono's "Ministerial" Powers

His Excellency, the Other President of The Republic of Zimbabwe, Finance Minister Tendai Biti, is seen here addressing parliament. ZANU PF is now trying to find ways to implement the wide powers Mugabe has secretly given to Gideon Gono, Governor of the Reserve Bank. The latest effort, though, is clumsy, relying as it does on a redundant Reserve Bank Act. Biti appears unfazed by all this noise

Harare, Zimbabwe, 23 October 2009

We have, yet again, been proved right.

This time, it is the Gideon Gono and Reserve Bank versus Tendai Biti saga. As I told you last month, Mugabe has secretly bolstered Gideon Gono's powers to be almost on par with those of Tendai Biti, the Minister of Finance and MDC Secretary-General.

It is the implementation of these powers that is proving a prickly pear. Hence the resort to legalistic contortions.

Today, ZANU PF, through the state media, is attempting revisionism at its most ridiculous. They now claim that the Reserve Bank Act give Gideon Gono and not Tendai Biti the powers to manage and disburse the money from the the International Monetary Fund.

The Fund gave Zimbabwe US$400 million of the US$510 million the country was due to receive as part of a global recession mitigation fund. The IMF backed Tendai Biti, who has been insisting that the money must be allocated through the budgetary process.

Gideon Gono and ZANU PF were pushing for the immediate disbursement of the money, saying they wanted to increase capacity in the mining and tourism sectors. Gono also wanted to use some of the money to pay back the money he stole from the bank accounts of NGOs and exporters who, before the advent of this coalition government, were forced to keep a portion of their foreign currency at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Stealing is basically taking without permission, which is what Gono did.

Quite apart from the fact the Reserve Bank Act to which ZANU PF is now referring in an effort to give control of the IMF money back to Gideon Gono is redundant because Tendai Biti has now tabled a new Reserve Bank Bill in parliament, the phrasing of the present Act, quoted by The Herald today, does not say the Reserve Bank is the decider when it comes to disbursement.

The Act states that the Reserve Bank "shall establish and maintain an international reserve, which shall consist of all or any of the following: (i) the entitlement t make reserve tranche purchases from the International Monetary Fund and (ii) the holdings of Zimbabwe of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) of the International Monetary Fund."

Nowhere does it say the Bank "shall allocate" any of these funds. Only that it shall maintain them at prudent level to be able to meet international obligations.

But, as a senior member of the MDC-T National Council said to me this week, we must also be very aware of how Mugabe operates when it comes to things like this. He tends to want to bend, rather than break, the rules, the law and the constitution. He is a stickler for always appearing to be within the law even as he bends.

"He bends even is own party's constitution," said the MDC National Council member (he was comparing Mugabe and Tsvangirai), "but he never breaks it like Tsvangirai does."

Do not be alarmed though.

Tendai Biti has obviously read the Act and understands it. He is a lawyer, after all, whereas Gideon Gono has never read law.

This is merely an attempt by Mugabe and ZANU PF to find ways in which they can implement the widespread powers they gave secretly to Gideon Gono in order to try and go round the very powerful Finance Minister who has the international community behind him.

ZANU PF sources quoted in the State paper today say that the refusal by the IMF to recognise Gideon Gono's right to disburse the money "is an extension of the sanctions issue."

They are still on that song. They are still pursuing the discredited notion that the MDC-T is running a parallel government. It is all part of attempts to ensure that ZANU PF goes ahead and implements its own ideas on the economy and the country by twisting not only the law but also the people's understanding of the roles played by the parties to the GPA.

That this story is given prominence at a time when the country faces a crisis is simply mind-boggling. Instead of widely airing the issues that are threatening to tear apart the Inclusive Government, state media is still being used to fight ZANU PF's battles with the MDC-T.

It does not give one hope for a future from conflict between the two major parties in government.


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