Gumbo’s remarks followed Goromonzi North MP Paddy Zhanda’s bid last week to move a motion to investigate allegations of corruption and maladministration against the Reserve Bank and its governor Gideon Gono. The move was thwarted by Zanu PF political heavyweights after they whipped Zhanda into line.
“The motion was stopped since most of the party members had not been consulted,” said Gumbo. “We cannot have a situation where MPs just move a motion without the party scrutinising it and putting its input at caucus level.”
Zhanda, also parliamentary committee on budget and finance chairman, unexpectedly broke ranks with his party by giving notice to move a surprise motion calling on parliament to “set up an adhoc committee in terms of Standing Order 157 to investigate allegations of corruption at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and to table its findings in the House”.
The motion, seconded by MDC-T Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure, said parliament was “concerned at the high levels of corruption, shady deals, acts of economic sabotage and poor corporate governance principles at the Reserve Bank and was worried by the Anti-Corruption Commission’s apparent involvement in the matter”.
Zhanda was pushing for investigations into the controversial activities of the central bank from 2003 when its debt rose by more than US$700 million to the current US$1,2 billion amid claims the central bank was used to prop up President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF during the political and economic meltdown between 2000 and 2009.
However, senior Zanu PF legislators, including politburo bigwigs Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sydney Sekeramayi, Didymus Mutasa, Oppah Muchinguri, Webster Shamu and Jonathan Moyo, as well as Midlands provincial governor Jason Machaya, MPs Isheunesu Muza, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti and Makhosini Hlongwane, shot down Zhanda’s motion at the party caucus.
Gono has previously told parliament he was not afraid of any investigation since all his actions were above board and were sanctioned by authorities. Last week he said he was ready for the probe anytime, as long as it was not motivated by “malice and ulterior motives”.
Gono and Zhanda have been involved in a protracted personal dispute amid allegations of extortion by the latter. Zhanda was last year forced to recuse himself from dealing with the Reserve Bank debt issue in parliament after Gono had complained that he was pursuing a “personal agenda” against him. The clash between the two — and subsequent removal of Zhanda from the issue in terms of Standing Rules and Order No. 13 — emanated from parliament’s probe of the farm mechanisation programme, financed by the central bank, part of a wider inquiry into central bank’s affairs, including the bank’s $1,2 billion debt.
Political analysts say the motion was blocked because Zanu PF was uncomfortable with what the probe might unearth. Political commentator and public management lecturer at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, South Africa, Ricky Mukonza, said Zanu PF opposed such motions because it had “skeletons in its cupboards”.
Senior Zanu PF officials, including ministers and MPs, benefitted from the bank’s policies between 2003 and 2009. Among the Reserve Bank interventions were the funding of new farmers, farm mechanisation, bailing out of industries, parastatals and private companies, as well as supporting almost all state operations. Zanu PF is adamant that this period should neither be reviewed nor investigated. However, Zhanda, who did not accept being thwarted, has vowed to persist with his motion.