Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Zimbabwe: Mugabe orders parliament not to take testimony from central bank Governor

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono failed to appear Monday to testify before parliament's committee on budget, finance and economic development, which wanted the central banker to provide the names of the individuals he has dubbed "the cash barons" and blamed for the country's persistent shortages of bank notes.

Sources said the office of President Robert Mugabe ordered the parliament not to take testimony from Gono until after the elections slated for March. The Reserve Bank governor threatened in December to “name and shame” prominent cash barons saying he was ready to appear before any committee of parliament.

Opposition lawmaker Abednico Bhebhe, a member of the finance committee, told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Mugabe's office barred Gono from giving testimony because it would be damaging to Harare.

Bhebhe represents the Matabeleland North constituency of Nkayi for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change faction headed by Arthur Mutambara.

The cash crisis continued Monday, meanwhile, with long queues remaining outside banks. Sources in Harare said some banks there had reduced the maximum amount they would allow individuals to withdraw a day from Z$500 million as reset by the central bank last week, to Z$200 million, as they were running out of cash.

By Jonga Kandemiiri, Washington, 21 January 2008
Published with the permission of Voice of America