OPINION – I can honestly say that I have never done an article on this blog that generated as much "live" feedback as the other story on this site, in which I told you all about petulant Gono trying to take the fight to Tsvangirai and Biti by drawing in a large number of people into his battle with the two men.\r\n
Most of the feedback was in the form of phone calls from Zimbabweans within Zimbabwe. (After a while I started asking myself why so many people seemed to know my cellphone number!)
Several of the callers (all of whom were, in the traditional Zimbabwe style, very friendly) complained that I update the blog late. They want their analysis and scoops first thing in the morning!
I shall try harder!
But the reason for the excitement against Gideon Gono is understandable.
In my article below, I explained to you that Gono had cornered Biti and Tsvangirai by extending the vehicle scandal to touch on the Farm Mechanisation Programme (which saw a vast number of MPs and ordinary supporters of both MDCs, as well as ZANU PF, Mugabe’s party, receive free tractors, ploughs, pick-up trucks, combine harvesters, Cultivators, disc harrows, seed, fertiliser and a whole lot of other stuff.
Gono also warned that companies that had been given BACCOSSI money (US dollars mostly, given to Zimbabwean manufacturers of basic commodities to allow them to buy raw materials and spare parts at vastly state-subsidised rates) should be ready to return the millions of dollars advanced to them at a moment’s notice.
The Governor sought to draw in the army, ministry of defence….in fact, everybody who has ever benefited from the programmes of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Most of these are ZANU PF people.
But now for the really interesting background that I did not have before.
It appears that Tendai Biti and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, especially, are very cool customers in all of this.
Tsvangirai is doggedly pursuing Gono with a strategy of stubborn, unrelenting pressure, which he is applying to Mugabe at every single Monday meeting the two men have. (You will recall that Tsvangirai reports on his business to Mugabe every Monday).
Refusing to be rebuffed, Tsvangirai is pressing home the need to re-look at the Governor’s role in any future fortunes of Zimbabwe. Consistently, he is telling the dictator that Gono is a stumbling block to Zimbabwe receiving money from donors and the Bretton Woods institutions and hence, to recovery.
So, Gono is panicking.
What Tsvangirai is not aware of yet is that, even within ZANU PF, Gono is fast losing friends. He has alienated some very influential party leaders who are now quietly stocking up the fire under Gono by urging MDC parliamentarians to go ahead and propose a parliamentary investigation into the governor.
So far, the numbers I am told of seem to indicate that any parliamentary action against Gono would get bi-partisan support and garner a two-thirds majority.
Claims that have been passed on to me that Gono has also fallen out of favour with Grace Mugabe can not be confirmed. It is said that the speech given by Grace Mugabe earlier this year in which she demanded that those in ZANU PF who were engaged in corruption should be investigated was directed at the Governor.
Gono’s document, apparently, is a challenge to his former friends in Mugabe’s ZANU PF party. He is bitter at what he sees as "being sacrificed by my comrades." He feels hard done by, that people whom he sought to bribe with all these goodies now appear willing to sacrifice him to Tsvangirai and Biti.
The call to return all the stuff he gave them should be seen in that light. He is looking for sympathy and support.
The Reserve Bank Governor still has another ace up his sleeve (although it appears as though this will not help him), and that is to come out publicly and name people who benefited from such schemes as the buying of foreign currency on the black market by the Reserve Bank.
For instance, some of the people who benefited from this include a sitting MP from ZANU PF, a former Zimbabwe Television reporter who made his fortune through the scheme of being given freshly printed Zimbabwe dollars to source foreign currency on the black market for Gono and the Central Bank.
The lack of transparency with this black market forex scheme meant that a lot of people were left with "change" running into tens of thousands of US dollars from the black market after changing the "hard to come by" Zimbabwe dollars on the black market.
You will recall that during that period, Gono squeezed ordinary Zimbabweans, refusing them access to their own Zimbabwe dollars from their bank accounts, so hard Zimbabwe dollar cash was in very short supply and yet was what was used in day-to-day trading.
The Governor is now threatening to let all of these things become public unless ZANU PF parliamentarians ( most of whom got money from Gono for their general election campaigns in March 2008) protect him from the MDC in parliament.
Ultimately, though, Gono is looking directly to Robert Mugabe, who, it is a well-known fact, does not take the embarrassment of ZANU PF as a party lightly.
By threatening to open this can of worms, which has the potential to bring ZANU PF crashing down in the legislature especially (although perhaps not at the courts, knowing what we know about the Attorney General), Gono is trying to force Mugabe’s hand, to get him to move unilaterally to quash all investigations and protect his banker from scrutiny.
Tellingly, Gono, in that document he released yesterday, says his activities should not be seen in the context of normal central banking operations, saying that the real problem he faced was "political in nature", even before the Inclusive Government and hence, he had to act in a "political manner" in responding to the "challenges."
This subject, ladies and gentlemen, is actually too big to be covered in one article and I expect that I will be doing another piece again tomorrow unless something else crops up.
MEANTIME, THOUGH, I now have it on very good authority that the announcement that Thabo Mbeki was going to come to Zimbabwe to "define Mugabe’s powers in the context of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)" was nothing but CIO and ZANU PF disinformation.
ZANU PF wanted this to happen, absolutely certain that Mbeki would take the (correct) legal position that Mugabe’s presidential powers remain intact and, as he heads cabinet, has the authority to make changes to ministries as he did with Chamisa’s.
But it could only happen if the Prime Minister falls into the trap and agrees to ask Mbeki to come back to Harare to deal with the matter.
But the Prime Minister moved quickly to dismiss the disinformation. He may have actually wisened up on this one and it appears as though, for the first time, he has anticipated the dictator and has a wonderfully workable counter-strategy.
Hence, he is insisting that, yes, he knows that Mugabe has all of those LEGAL powers, but that this is not a legalistic matter, rather a moral one.
He intends to keep hammering home to Mugabe that, although he has the "legal" powers, he must approach this whole matter from the moral viewpoint: there are things he can do to ensure that money is unlocked by the international community.
If Mugabe relents on some of the "smaller issues", Tsvangirai tells the dictator, then the job of asking for donor funds to revive Zimbabwe would be that much easier.
Tsvangirai’s problem, however, is that Mugabe apparently believes that no matter what he does, the West will not come in to help the Inclusive Government.
He is still of the view that the fight with Britain and America is about land and he is actually hoping that Tsvangirai fails to convince the donor nations to help, so that he can turn around to the electorate and the African constituency and tell them, " I told you this was about Land Reform….they will not help us until we give back the farms to white farmers."
I think the one thing even Tsvangirai’s enemies agree on is that the man has a dogged determination.
It appears he is putting this to good use here, unrelenting even as he uses a pinhead to poke the ZANU PF lion repeatedly.
Perhaps, just perhaps, he may irritate it into moving, even if it is just for a bit.
I think we have entered a very interesting time in the affairs of Zimbabwe and the next couple of weeks, while not delivering a clear verdict on whether ZANU PF stands or falls, should indicate to us just how much moral power the Prime Minister can wrestle from the ruling party, in the name of asking for space to right the economy.
The only let-down may be from the West, who may indeed refuse still to listen to him and resist all efforts to bring in money to help the economy.
If they do that and continue on that path, they may well be sabotaging the Prime Minister at a time when he is emerging with what I personally see as the strategy that has the best prospect for success.
It appears he has found a ZANU PF weak spot and that spot is Gideon Gono, who is being abandoned by people with ZANU PF, although not yet by Mugabe. If Tsvangirai succeeds on Gono, it would be correct to say he would have badly wounded ZANU PF. Whether the wound would be fatal will then depend on what he (Tsvangirai) does for an encore.