Gideon Gono in hiding – Report

THE governor of Zimbabwe's central bank has gone into hiding amid allegations that he has had a five-year affair with President Mugabe's wife, Grace.

Sources in Zimbabwe said that the whereabouts of Gideon Gono, one of Mr Mugabe’s closest aides, were unknown – although he was believed to still be in the country

"His life is in danger, it is as simple as that. The danger for him is that Mugabe’s goons will now act as they think he would like," a political analyst told The Times.

He said that Mr Gono, who allegedly devised elaborate schemes to allow members of the ruling elite to enrich themselves, was a victim of a plot by his political enemies, who fear he knows too much about their past misdeeds.

"Gono knows where all the bodies are buried, but he has no power base himself. Mugabe and others wanted to ditch him. Rumours of this affair have been around a long time – why do they come out now?"

Mrs Mugabe, 45, has been embroiled in family feuding over her husband’s wealth as Mr Mugabe, 86, struggles with poor health and his former cohorts jockey for position and influence in the climate of mistrust and suspicion surrounding the issue of his succession. Some insiders said that the affair accusations were part of a campaign to discredit the President’s wife, known for her penchant for expensive shopping trips in Asia.

Mr Mugabe was reportedly told of the alleged affair by his sister, Sabina, shortly before her death about 18 months ago. Newspaper reports stated that a trusted bodyguard, Cain Chademana, who was present at the time of Sabina’s death and who knew of the alleged affair, was recently found dead, believed poisoned.

Mr Gono was appointed by Mr Mugabe as head of the central bank in 2003. It was on his watch that Zimbabwe’s economy was destroyed by hyper-inflation.

President Mugabe was said to be devastated by the revelations at his sister’s funeral, but insiders say he is also furious that details of the affair have now emerged.

Mr Gono personally raised the cash to fund Mrs Mugabe’s early foreign shopping sprees when he was chief executive of one of the country’s largest commercial banks. He once boasted he was being head-hunted as a future leader of the World Bank due to the spectacular success of his policies.

Mr Gono’s role as financier of the extravagant spending trips was exposed last year in a list of so-called "parallel market" deals carried out by the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (now known as Jewel Bank) in defiance of foreign-exchange laws that Mr Gono is sworn to uphold. Opposition politicians have long called for his removal.

Veteran observers of Zimbabwe’s Machiavellian politics say the revelations against Mr Gono were intended to force him to abandon some of the lucrative money-making schemes which would have enabled the President’s wife to have a disproportionate amount of power in any post-Mugabe era. "The revelations have to be seen in the context of the post-Mugabe power struggle now under way," said a former activist in the ruling Zanu (PF) party.

South Africa and other neighbouring states are said to be concerned about recent developments in Zimbabwe and have made clear that they will not support another election victory marred by violence, intimidation and vote-rigging. – The Australian