HARARE – Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono’s ten-year tenure at the helm of the central bank comes to an end tomorrow at a time when the economy is going through a shocking downward spiral.
Gono, who presided over the bank at a tumultuous time of unprecedented inflation and economic collapse, is credited with helping the country from sliding into anarchy through his quasi-fiscal policies in which he printed huge tranches of the Zimbabwe dollar, goes away with both critics and sympathisers.
We call upon President Robert Mugabe and the minister of Finance, Patrick Chinamasa to come up with a respected and credible replacement for Gono if they are not going to renew his term.
All things being equal, we urge Mugabe and Chinamasa to find ways of extending Gono’s term. Like him or hate him, Gono had and has a presence no one could ignore in the country and despite suffering abuse at the hands of Zimbabweans during the height if inflation, he stood firm and managed to steer the ship.
Yes, inflation reached alarming levels at the time but Gono explained himself out through his favourite phrase; “extra-ordinary circumstances demands extra-ordinary measures.” Yes, politicians abused the schemes undertaken at the RBZ including inputs programmes and the farm mechanisation programmes.
Having survived the storm of the inflation era, Gono won himself the trust of the nation when he publicly clashed with the former minister of Indigenisation, Savior Kasukuwere, whose robust approach to the programme led to investor flight from the country.
Gono wanted a more sober approach and fiercely resisted Kasukuwere’s dangerous moves to indigenise banks, a development which could have led to the total collapse of the struggling financial sector.
In the past, Gono also resisted price controls warning government that by implementing the policy, the country would face food and goods shortages and indeed within weeks, supermarket shelves were empty.
For continuity purposes, government must consider extending his term for at least one year while he grooms his successor.
The successor must be someone with an ability and temerity to approach Mugabe and the country’s leaders to offer alternatives to their policies without any fear.
If Gono’s term can’t be extended, then the successor should surely be one of his deputy governors for continuity sake because Zimbabwe at the moment is at crossroads and there is no time to come up with a new central bank boss from outside the RBZ who will take time to acquaint him/herself with the operations at the apex bank.
And the decision to replace or extend Gono’s term should be done as a matter of urgency.