Gono gets new term – Mawere responds

SOUTH AFRICA – JOHANNESBURG – On Monday, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Samuel Mumbembegwi, whose status like all his cabinet colleagues including President Mugabe has been described by President Mothlante as illegitimate, announced the re-appointment of Dr. Gono as the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for another five-year term.

The legal, economic and political implications of this critical appointment still have to be digested. 

If anyone had any doubt as to who is in charge notwithstanding the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) and the subsequent intervention of SADC, this appointment goes a long way towards confirming the widely held view that people who voted for change on 29 March 2008, had no idea that such change would mean Mugabe and Gono on both sides of a worthless Zimbabwean coin.

Zimbabweans will have to endure another five years of political manipulation that Gono has proved to be a master at. 

During his term, he has successfully been able to divert attention from the core source of the political and economic crisis by manufacturing enemies of the state. 

His tenure has witnessed the centralisation of executive power and the emergence of the RBZ as the super state. 

While the negotiators for an inclusive government have been deadlocked on the allocation of Ministries, the real focus ought to have been on the economy and the toxic threat presented by Gono. 

Gono has demonstrated that one does not have to be a Minister of Home Affairs to control the police.  All the operations that have been credited for undermining human and property rights largely have their origin in the mind of Gono.

He is a man preoccupied on blaming others and yet through his own actions, the Zimbabwean economy has had to endure the worst economic policies and programs imaginable.  If Zimbabwe, the state, had a voice what would it say about Gono? 

Would Zimbabwe be satisfied that under Gono it had a good steward?  The re-appointment of Gono reflects the misplaced and distorted understanding of the true nature of the response to the global financial crisis that has seen the state intervening through financial support in developed capitalist economies. 

Gono and President Mugabe can claim credit for being the harbingers of the nationalisation project and introducing the most efficient money printing systems but the truth needs to be told in the national interest about the bankruptcy of the kind of policies that Gono has put in place over the last five years.

To what extent is Gono culpable for causing the economic crisis will remain an issue for countless conversations to come but what is significant is that under his watch more zeros have visited the country notwithstanding his favourite slogan – “failure is not an option”. 

Gono has effectively transformed the government of Zimbabwe (GOZ) into an agent of the RBZ and in so doing all the key resource allocation decisions are no longer being made by cabinet but by him.  He has; therefore, single handedly exposed the futility of the project to set up an inclusive government when his approach can hardly be described as inclusive.

Gono believes in total control and his enemies have been transformed into enemies of the state.  There is no institution left in Zimbabwe that is not under his payroll and control.  The failure of the contesting political actors to locate the real problem in Zimbabwe in its economic dimension may have a lot to do with how Gono operates. 

It would not be surprising if he has not facilitated an outcome that has caused the allocation of ministries and not the role of the RBZ as the stumbling block to the formation of the national unity government.  Given the state of the economy and the control Gono wields, it is unlikely that members of the opposition are also not beneficiaries of financial and other logistical support from Gono.

For anyone to hope to have a decent living in Zimbabwe, Gono has proved to be a useful partner to the extent that his re-appointment may not be as controversial as who should control the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Gono has framed the Zimbabwe crisis as emanating from a combination of the targeted sanctions and the actions of criminals and economic saboteurs.  He sees himself as an economic patriotic and above all as an angel while choosing to describe those he needs to divert attention from the bankruptcy of his policies as demons.

Judging by the way the state media has been at work in the last few weeks lobbying for his re-appointment, one can safely conclude that even his principal, President Mugabe, may also be a victim of Gono’s manipulation. 

If President Mugabe was fully informed of Gono’s activities, one would not have expected him to re-appoint him without consulting his partners i.e. MDC-T and MDC-M and also the state media would not have been used for lobbying purposes.

The appointment of Gono prior to the formation of an inclusive government clearly demonstrates the contempt with which President Mugabe holds the former opposition parties who now have a combined majority in parliament.  At the very least, President Mugabe should have delayed the appointment to allow the GPA to be implemented. 

If Mugabe’s legitimacy is conditional on the formation of an inclusive government, where does this leave Gono’s re-appointment that has been made on a partisan basis?  Clearly Mumbengegwi’s illegitimacy is not in doubt and yet he is the bearer of good news to Gono.  Could it be the case that there is consensus among the contesting parties about the indispensability of Gono?

Gono has already given himself a very favourable rating.  What rating would Zimbabwe give Gono if it had any say in it?  Can a functioning economy thrive where there are no checks and balances?  The parliament of Zimbabwe has been reduced to a spectator in so far as budgetary allocations are concerned and oversight of the executive branch of government that is now in the intensive care unit. 

Gono’s journey of discovery and economic random walk begun with the Monetary Measures that soon gave way to a series of measures that can hardly be described as monetary.  Economic management became like a sellotape job involving the use of sellotape to patch up leaks. 

As the leaks grew, the economic doctor kept on pilling more and more sellotape until the economy became a sellotape economy.  One can hardly describe the economy of Zimbabwe as functional.

Gono knows what his principal wants to hear and he has been good at packaging the message for him.  Gono’s loyalty is to Mugabe and it would have been unthinkable for Mugabe to push for his continued term in the knowledge that Gono’s position was in dispute. 

It is remarkable to the extent that the economy is where the biggest injury is that there appears to be no dispute between the MDC and ZANU-PF on what the country needs to do. 

For change to be believable, there must and should be minimum conditions that ought to have informed the negotiators.  It is legitimate to ask why Gono is missing on the agenda.  Clearly for Zimbabwe to move forward someone must bridge the information gap. 

Any rational economic actor would agree that Gono poses the most significant threat to progress and yet he finds himself with a new lease of life at a time when the economy is in crisis.  Under Gono, the difference between Zimbabwe and the RBZ is the same. 

If Gono controls the police, then perhaps he should be the ideal candidate to be the Minister of Home Affairs as it appears that there is no dispute between the parties about his conduct and usefulness to Zimbabwe.

It was reported in the Herald that: At the time of his appointment, Dr Gono inherited a weakening currency, runaway inflation, unattractive interest rates and rampant indiscipline within the financial services sector. 

He managed, within a few months, to briefly stabilise inflation during the first half of 2004, returned sanity to the banking sector and tried to reform the foreign exchange rate to spur export performance. 

Dr Gono has also played a key role in building broad national consensus around formulation and co-operative implementation of monetary, fiscal and structural policies, including the inception of a comprehensive framework to turn around and privatise public sector enterprises.  

During his first term, the Reserve Bank has been key in funding crucial national development programmes, among them the four phases of the Farm Mechanisation Programme.”

Only history will judge if the above is a correct assessment of Gono’s record.