Top Bankers Tipped for Gono’s Post

AT LEAST five top Zimbabwean bankers have emerged as potential replacements for Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono as pressure for his axing increases.

The feisty central bank boss’s mandate under a Movement for Democratic Change-led economic revival team has become the subject of intense focus after new Finance minister Tendai Biti said they would be “widespread changes” to the institution.

Banking insiders told businessdigest this week that South African-based economist-turned-venture capitalist Wellington Chadehumbe and Nigel Chanakira, the Kingdom-Meikles Africa Ltd (KMAL) group chief executive officer, were among the leading candidates for the Reserve BaAnk top job.

Those also being mentioned include Barbican Bank Ltd founder Professor Mthuli Ncube, Chris Takura Tande of Time Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd and current deputy governor Edward Mashiringwani.

“As the top MDC hierarchy has intimated (Gono’s removal), names that are being bandied about for the Reserve Bank governorship include Chadehumbe, Wits University’s Mthuli Ncube, Nigel Chanakira, current deputy governor Mashiringwani and Time Bank’s Chris Tande,” said a source.

“If you look at the cast, their credentials and competency (education and experience) are unquestionable. Some of them have ample local and international exposure that they should be able to mesh ideas and knowledge effortlessly, in order to restore confidence and stability in the financial services sector.”

There is, however, a realisation that Gono cannot be easily removed because of his closeness to President Robert Mugabe.

While the likes of Chanakira, Ncube and Tande’s names have resurfaced, this paper can exclusively reveal that two of the men “won nomination, excelled and attained high commendations” in the 2003 recruitment and selection process for Leonard Tsumba’s replacement –– won or claimed by Gono.

However, Gono’s economic stewardship record has been disastrous, with the world’s highest inflation rate, a weak currency and worst performing economy.

Sources, meanwhile, indicated that Chadehumbe and Chanakira were the frontrunners owing to their “active role” and participation in banking currently.

While Chadehumbe was a senior MBCA Bank Ltd executive and current chief executive of Triumph Venture Capital, Chanakira –– an economics masters degree holder –– was the CEO of Kingdom Bank Ltd until recently when he joined the enlarged KMAL group.

Ncube and Tande have impeccable banking experience emanating from their founding roles and service at Barbican and Time respectively.

The former is a mathematics finance professor and director of Wits Business School in South Africa, who has also served at regional banks, including Investec, while Tande is an associate banker and holder of degrees in management and economics.

Their banks were felled in the tumultuous 2003/2004 financial period under a wave of reforms instigated by Gono.

While Barbican was collated into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, Time is still in the lurch three years after the end of PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ Tinashe Rwodzi’s curatorship.

With observers supporting reforms to Zimbabwe’s main bank in a bid to restore stability in the eyes of global investors and financial partners, there are also hints for an external governor supported by local deputies.

However, another school of thought also says locals should be given the chance with the support of an external technical team –– reflecting the ages-old and globally-tested structures.

“Such a structure would ensure skills transfer and that any in-coming team operates, and sticks to a consultative approach as well as strategies,” said an analyst. –– Staff Writer.