Jokonya Defends Controversial Decision

THE immediate past president of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) Calisto Jokonya has defended his controversial decision to request a donation of vehicles from the Reserve Bank amid reports of a shake-up within the industrial lobby group after his term ended.

Jokonya’s response came after this week’s launch of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono’s book that blasted some unnamed members of CZI for attempting to “discredit” him through a proposed repayment plan for eight vehicles the central bank donated to the organisation.

“I made the request to the governor because I believed the Reserve Bank had the capacity to do so,” Jokonya said. “I am not worried about anything. The CZI resolution to allow parliament to participate in quasi-fiscal policies undertaken by the central bank was in no way a personal attack on the governor. The decision at the annual conference was meant to provide checks and balances to the system.”

The new CZI leadership, sources said, criticised Jokonya’s request to the central bank made in July.
The sources said the new CZI presidium headed by Ariston Holdings chief executive Kumbirai Katsande would undergo a “re-orientation” programme.

“Jokonya made a unilateral decision to request vehicles from the RBZ,” said the source. “The CZI new presidium will soon undergo a programme educating them about the organisation’s protocol and method of operations. These changes will see the two new vice presidents (Joseph Kanyekanye and Happymore Mapara) rotating their administrative roles and liaising with the external public and members.”

Controversy dogged the donation when CZI took delivery of the vehicles from thae central bank on September 11.

Then acting CZI president Phillip Chigumira wrote a letter to Gono seeking clarification on the “terms and conditions” of the use of the vehicles.

“On behalf of CZI, I would like to enquire about the terms and conditions  if any — attached to this generous facilitation. We are anxious to comply with these in our use of the vehicles,” read Chigumira’s letter dated September 12.

This letter sources said resulted in the CZI calling for the repayment of the vehicles at the annual general conference in October. Following the resolution to repay the cars, the Reserve Bank allegedly declined to meet the new CZI leadership over the proposed repayment scheme.

In what sources said was an attempt to pacify relations with the central bank, Jokonya wrote a letter of gratitude to Gono on September 15.  

The letter, however, did not mention the industrial lobby group’s plans to pay for the cars.

“I was out of the country recently, and returned on 14 September 2008. I was delighted to be informed that the Reserve Bank, through your good offices, had made available seven twin cabs and a delivery truck to the CZI,” Jokonya wrote.

Gono’s book, Zimbabwe’s Casino Economy — Extraordinary Measures for Extraordinary Challenges, launched on Monday criticised unnamed members of CZI for countering Jokonya’s request supposedly to discredit his office.

Referring to an article published by the Zimbabwe Independent in October, Gono accused the CZI of playing the “invisible hands dirty politics”.

“A case in point is how some elements in the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries used a newspaper to seek to discredit me by claiming to distance their organisation from a request for a donation of vehicles which they made to me and which I had honoured,” Gono wrote.

Gono’s book also blasted some unnamed Zanu PF members for allegedly siding with “agents of regime change in the MDC” to undermine the central bank’s “successful” interventions.

Efforts to get comment from Katsande were in vain as he was reportedly out of the country.

BY BERNARD MPOFU

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