No amnesty for fugitives – Gono

Ngoni Chanakira

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono says he does not have sleepless nights about individuals found with their hands in the till who then cry foul when they are prosecuted.
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Presenting his monetary policy statement review to the nation on Wednesday afternoon Gono said in recent weeks there had been widespread calls for an amnesty to be granted to those who had been caught on the wrong side of the exchange control rules and regulations dealing with externalisation of the country’s foreign exchange resources.


He said however law enforcement agents would still continue to vigorously pursue and discharge their functions of “reining in any defaulters and offenders” under their own enabling statutes and this should not be construed as the “work or initiation of the Reserve Bank” as some victims of police nets had seemed to suggest.


Gono said he would ask President Robert Mugabe not to allow a blanket amnesty to individuals.


Prominent banking executives have fled the country to seek refuge in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa after their organisations were accused of selling foreign currency on the parallel market as well as externalising funds.


The executives who have left include NMB Holdings Ltd founder and former managing director Julius Makoni, deputy managing director James Mushore, finance director Otto Chekeche and executive director Francis Zimunya.


Intermarket and Barbican Holdings Ltd bosses Nicholas Vingirai and Mthuli Ncube respectively are also in the “diaspora” after their institutions were investigated and found to be on the wrong side of RBZ regulations.


“While we as a bank have taken a softer and more understanding approach to parallel market transgressions because of circumstances prevailing before December 1 2003, we however reject the suggestion that a blanket amnesty be extended at this stage of our clean-up exercise to those who externalised our foreign currency under one disguise or the other,” Gono said.


“Besides though, the granting of any amnesty is the prerogative of the head of state and therefore such calls for a reprieve should not be directed at the central bank as has been the case recently.”


The RBZ has already given its own limited amnesty to institutions that abused the foreign currency trading regulations before December 18.

“As monetary authorities we however make a passionate, patriotic and upright call to all those who externalised export-related proceeds originating from this country, by whatever disguise, directly or indirectly, to repatriate those funds back to Zimbabwe,” Gono said.


Prominent businessman and Telecel boss James Makamba is currently in prison after having been accused of externalising funds among other issues.


He has been in prison for two months now after the state drew up a statutory instrument enabling it to hold a suspect in custody for 21 days without a charge.


In an interview after his presentation Gono said he was being given all sorts of names because of his clean-up exercise but would stop at nothing other than cleaning up the financial sector.


“Indigenisation does not mean allowing corruption in the sector,” he said. “We should just function cleanly and not hide behind fingers and say indigenisation is being disrupted. I am prepared to go all the way.”


In his monetary policy review statement Gono said any amnesty should be the prerogative of President Mugabe, his cabinet and the legislature.