Gono proposes successor

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, who is set to exit the post he has held for 10 years at the end of the month, has tendered two possible candidates to replace him as the central bank chief, senior government sources revealed this week.

By Faith Zaba

It is a decade since Gono, who was affectionately referred to as “Mr Fix it” among some of the ruling elite, took office in December 2003.

According to the government officials, November 29 could be Gono’s last day in office.

Efforts to contact Gono were unsuccessful as his office said he was out of the country on a business trip until November 17.

Gono’s boss, Finance and Economic Development minister Patrick Chinamasa, on Wednesday refused to shed light on the RBZ governor’s fate.

“I refuse to comment on that issue,” he said.

According to senior government officials, Gono has proposed the names of his two deputies, Dr Charity Dhliwayo and Dr Kupukile Mlambo, to the RBZ board.

Dhliwayo is responsible for bank supervision and surveillance and has been deputy governor for nine years. She has been with the central bank for over 25 years and becomes the first female candidate to emerge a strong contender for the post since the RBZ’s inception in 1956.

Mlambo joined the RBZ last year in July from the African Development Bank where he worked as the policy advisor to the regional bank’s president for 10 years. He is currently in charge of the economic portfolio, among other functions.

The RBZ board is expected to forward a list of names to Chinamasa, who in turn will make recommendations to President Robert Mugabe.

However, as of yesterday, it was not clear if Mugabe would ask Gono to stay on at the central bank.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba referred all questions on the matter to Chinamasa.

During the hyper-inflationery era, Gono used what he termed “extraordinary measures to tackle extraordinary economic circumstances”, some of which did not endear him to the general public suffering from the ravages of inflation.

He has been praised for calling for an end to farm invasions and has often criticised the country’s confrontational indigenisation drive in which foreign-owned companies must cede 51% shareholding to locals.

He clashed with former Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere over the ideological thrust of the policy, its conceptual basis, framework and implementation mechanism.

Kasukuwere wanted foreign banks to comply with the controversial 51% empowerment requirement by end of June this year, while Gono always argued that a “one-size-fits-all” approach would not work.

New Indigenisation minister, Francis Nhema, seems to agree with Gono.

“If you are going into sections of the service industry like banks, manufacturing and others where there is no resource to begin with then you cannot say the 51% is mine.”

Nhema believes that the banks can support indigenisation by offering cheap loans to local businesses and farmers.