[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Zim deals continue to punish the povo
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Feb 22 20:31:00 GMT 2009
Financial aid planthreatened by row
Mugabe's Reserve Bank governor engages in a public tussle withtwo
opposition ministers over Zimbabwe's economic policies
February 22, 2009 Edition 1
Stanley Gama and Maureen Isaacson
While South Africa and the region consider a R6 billion economic rescue
package for Zimbabwe, war has broken out inside Zimbabwe's new unity
government for control of the country's economic policy.
This week, Arthur Mutambara, the new deputy prime minister, and Gideon
Gono, President Robert Mugabe's Reserve Bank governor, clashed over
economic and financial policy.
Mutambara, who leads the smaller Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
faction in the coalition government, told Zimbabweans to ignore Gono's
monetary policy statements and the recent budget of Patrick Chinamasa,
Mugabe's then acting finance minister.
Mutambara said on Thursday: "Don't base your plans on what Chinamasa or
Gono said. The [national budget and monetary policy] will be reviewed.
There will be fundamental reviews on those two documents."
But Gono retorted immediately, by saying: "Nothing has been reversed and
nothing will be reversed. The Reserve Bank wishes to advise all
stakeholders locally, regionally and internationally that the monetary
policy statement as announced on February 2 does constitute the
legitimate policy position in the affairs of monetary policy management
of the country.
"Stakeholders, particularly the banking sector players, are therefore
called upon to ensure that they do not break the standing legitimate
statutory requirements as [are] set in the Zimbabwean laws."
He blasted Mutambara for "deliberately causing disruptive confusions"
and "destructive pronouncements" and advised him to "carefully weigh his
pronouncements" and to avoid "engaging in needless brawls".
Gono, a close Mugabe ally, is widely regarded as a major obstacle to
restoring sound economic and monetary policy and many foreign donors
have said his dismissal is one of their preconditions for providing
Tendai Biti, Zimbabwe's new finance minister, is said to be unwilling to
work with Gono.
The clash over economic policy has cast doubt on the economic rescue
package which the region is contemplating for Zimbabwe. Morgan
Tsvangirai, the prime minister, and Biti met South African President
Kgalema Motlanthe and Trevor Manuel, the finance minister, in Cape Town
to ask for a short-term capital infusion of $600 million (about R6
billion) mainly to kickstart health, education and other services.
Motlanthe would not confirm the figure, but said that finance ministers
of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) would meet this
week to draft a rescue package.
It is considered likely, though, that the SADC governments will require
guarantees from the Zimbabwe government that the aid money would be
spent according to sensible economic policies.
Asked if there was any draft agreement drawn up to ensure accountability
for the South African money sent to Zimbabwe, Mutambara said in
Johannesburg yesterday: "The issue of accountability is an important
one. But we have no draft. We do not need that. We are not children."
He added: "Morgan Tsvangirai is the prime minister, Tendai Biti is the
minister of finance and I am the deputy prime minister. We will make
sure that there is accountability."
But Gono's strong reassertion of control over economic policy has raised
doubts about who is, in fact, in charge.
# At a seminar at the University of Johannesburg on Friday, Elinor
Sisulu, a Zimbabwean human rights activist, said that in respect of the
package being bankrolled by South Africa to Zimbabwe, South African
taxpayers had a right to accountability.
"I hope Tendai Biti, the finance minister, will have the power to change
the way the Reserve Bank is run. If South African taxpayers are going to
bankroll the package for Zimbabwe, there has to be accountability, which
we don't have at the moment.
"But we know that Zimbabwe has always been run by processes parallel to
government. If you do not have the power to ensure that your colleagues
are released from detention, then what power do you have?"
Sisulu said she was critical of Zimbabwe's new government of national
unity. "I have seen the mediation process as undemocratic and
manipulative. The process has focused on the change of political
personalities and not [the change] of a system of government.
"I have warned the MDC that they are lambs going into crocodile-infested
"We have dysfunctional and corrupt institutions. The swearing in of the
ministers was a scandal. Where was the chief justice? How did Zanu-PF
turn up with seven extra ministers, in addition to the 14 that had been
agreed on? We have to do things procedurally. Furthermore, Roy Bennett,
a deputy minister designate, was arrested on the same day. Robert Mugabe
says he wonders what the fuss is about …
"Maybe Roy Bennett's arrest is a good thing so he will be able to see
inside the prisons. These conditions must be addressed.
"Zanu-PF has said that the civil society activists and Bennett will only
be released if Tsvangirai signs an amnesty from 1980 onwards. Zanu-PF
want assurance that past abuses will not be followed up.
"Our challenge to civil society is to see that this does not happen
again and that those responsible are held to account."
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