Gono’s New Policy Challenges MDC, Zanu PF

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono this week dropped a brazen challenge to Zanu PF and the MDC formations currently involved in interparty talks by introducing a raft of new policy measures which appear unpalatable to the two main political parties.

The governor introduced measures which analysts say amounted to dollarising the economy through the back door while at the same time claiming a stake in the country’s power distribution matrix, whatever the outcome of talks.
Gono on Wednesday introduced measures to license selected wholesalers, retailers, fuel importers and fuels retailers to transact in foreign currency. He also re-affirmed the central bank’s commitment to continue with quasi-fiscal measures in the form of Bacossi to the people programme, the Medical and Health Sector Support Programme and the Medical and Health Profession Skills Retention Programme. The QFAs have been frowned upon by the opposition which has regarded these as fueling inflation and causing arbitrage in the economy.
On the other hand, the Zanu PF government has resisted attempts to dollarise the economy largely for the sake of protecting its nationalistic dogma.
Ordinarily one would have expected Gono to tread with caution on policy issues especially at this critical point in the talks when his adversary Morgan Tsvangirai is likely to be handed the reins to steer the economy. But notwithstanding the seemingly apparent pitfalls of introducing fresh policy, Gono this week chose to dare both parties in a business as usual approach.
So audacious was RBZ governor that in introducing the new measures, he invited the nation to steam ahead with him instead of  being bogged down by politicians from the MDC formations and Zanu PF whom  he implored to “use their  talents (of talking) wisely and for the benefit of every loyal  but suffering  subjects they are supposed to be representing”.
Gono’s impatience with politicians has resonated in his past policy statements with the last jab coming from his half term policy statement in July when he urged the parties to “conclude their ongoing strategic deliberations in a constructive manner which puts Zimbabwe first”.
This week, he raised the ante by suggesting that the politicians were “busy ignoring” key issues.  In the absence of crucial political intervention Gono has moved in to fill  the power vacuum and he chose to invite the public and not politicians to the crusade.
“We must do whatever it takes to improve our economy, boost productive capacity of our industries, our mines and agriculture.”
He added: “Let us get on with it — politicians will join us later when they have exhausted their talking talents.”
This is not the first time though that Gono has invited the nation to rally behind his projects.
What is of significance this time however is the timing of this latest call to arms. It is coming at a time when opposition supporters and their leaders — who have dismissed his turnaround plans as ineffectual — are looking to chart a new path for the economy by removing Gono from the pilot’s seat.
In Masvingo a week before the March presidential polls, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti fired expletives at Gono whom he branded “the Taliban” and “Al Qaeda”. There has not been any public rebuttal of that statement by the party.
The challenge facing Gono — whose tenure expires in two months time — is what to do with his basket of plans and projects in the event that Tsvangirai comes into the fray to implement his party’s economic policies. There are two clear options; to cede control and allow a successor administration to tear down his power edifice or to stand firm to influence measures that would ensure that MDC plans fit into his template.
The first option entails that he leaves after supervising the dismembering of institutions he has constructed to support QFAs. At the moment he still holds the national cheque book and is sending a loud message that in the absence of parliament, he can take charge to determine policy and run government.
He has in past said he is ready to leave if told that his services are no longer desired. But over years the governor has built a strong power base which encompasses politicians from the political divide, security forces, the academia and private sector. Is he going to be tempted by this power base to hang on? — Own Correspondent.

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