Gono wants Zim$ back, Biti says over my dead body

HARARE, – THE Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Gideon Gono, has once again ignited his lost battle for the return of the worthless Zimbabwe dollar but, this time, backed by "gold bullion".

Gono, who was at the helm at the central bank when the economy shrunk to unbelievable levels and had the world’s largest inflation figure of more than 231 million percent, told a weekly newspaper that Zimbabwe could not continue using the United States greenback because it was “foreign cash”.

\r\n

He said the US dollar would soon be phased out as the tender of choice on the international markets.

\r\n

Gono said since Zimbabwe is currently “awash” with gold the broke nation should re-introduce the Zimbabwe dollar but this time backed by gold produced locally.

\r\n

At its peak Zimbabwe was producing among the highest levels of gold in the world. However, it is now producing only about nine tonnes annually, which cannot put it on the international panel of gold producing nations in the world.

During the days of the Zimbabwe dollar Gono regularly phased out the currency resulting in citizens carrying truck-loads of cash to buy items as minor as toffees and matches in shops countrywide.

\r\n

Customers needed to carry cardboard boxes with cash when going out for dinner but Gono says this will “change” when the new Zimbabwe dollar returns backed by gold.

The Minister of Finance, Tendai Bit, however, regularly says the Zimbabwe dollar would “never ever return” especially with current productiobn levels put conservatively at less than 40 percent in industry.

\r\n

Biti told this journalist that he would “quit” if the Zimbabwe dollar returned “anytime soon” especially under the old circusmstances.

\r\n

But Gono, who regularly clashes with the minister, says he thinks Zimbabwe needs to have its own currency or lose its independence to the Western world who have slapped sanctions on its leadership including President Robert Mugabe and himself.

The two are largely accused of bringing the country’s economy to its knees during their terms in office – an allegation which, however, both deny.Both Governor Gono and President Mugabe have regularly said that they will not “quit”.

\r\n

President Mugabe has been at the helm of Zimbabwe since April 18, 1980 while Gono has served two “back-to-back” terms at the Central Bank.