In a recent outburst of accusations and denials, Dr. Gideon Gono, the former Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), has come forward to strongly refute allegations made by Chris Mutsvangwa, the spokesperson for Zanu PF. The accusations had hinted at the misappropriation of Zimbabwe’s gold reserves during Gono’s tenure, involving dubious transactions with a Saudi Arabian company.

Dr. Gono described the allegations as a “gross misinterpretation” of a complex financial maneuver intended to salvage Zimbabwe’s floundering economy in 2006. He detailed that the Reserve Bank had engaged in a legitimate $150 million jewelry deal with a Saudi entity. This transaction was not a straightforward sale but a strategic component of a larger effort to secure a $600 million line of credit through a South African bank, aimed at mitigating severe economic repercussions from Western sanctions imposed in 2002.

These sanctions had targeted government operations and had broadly disrupted the Zimbabwean economy. According to Gono, the financial arrangement was crucial, as it provided the much-needed funds to import essential commodities, including electricity, fuel, and fertilizer, which were vital for the country’s survival during a particularly challenging period.

Dr. Gono argued that Mutsvangwa’s absence from Zimbabwe while serving as the Ambassador to China left him ill-informed about the transaction’s details and strategic importance. Gono, who assumed his role at the RBZ in December 2003, pointed out the dire financial conditions of the central bank upon his entry, which he described as “running on empty.”

In defense of his actions and decisions, Gono revealed that the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zimbabwe (ZACC) had previously investigated the claims and found no evidence of wrongdoing. The commission had scrutinized financial transactions and agreements and interviewed key individuals, including Gono and his successor, John Mangudya.

Gono expressed deep concerns over the potential damage such accusations could cause, noting that if these “blatant lies” went unchallenged, they could lead to character assassination and systematic misrepresentation of facts, damaging not only individual reputations but also the credibility of national financial institutions.

Reflecting on the enormous challenges faced during his administration, Gono underscored the complexity of the financial strategies required to navigate through the sanctions. He suggested that misinterpretations were likely from those not directly involved in the processes or lacking comprehensive knowledge of the situation.

In a call for accountability and truth, Gono proposed that President E.D. Mnangagwa should consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate and clarify the issues comprehensively. Such a measure, he argued, would dispel myths and ensure the public received accurate and transparent information about the matter.

Throughout his tenure from 2003 to 2013, Gono was known for his efforts to stabilize and boost Zimbabwe’s economy under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. He concluded his statement by reaffirming his commitment to defending the integrity of Zimbabwe’s financial governance and stressed the importance of maintaining historical accuracy and integrity in public discourse.

By addressing these allegations head-on, Gono hopes to restore confidence in Zimbabwe’s banking system and encourage a more informed and respectful dialogue about the country’s economic history and the legacies of its leaders.

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