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Reserve Bank Chief Lobbies President Mugabe to Halt Farm Seizures

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has asked President Robert Mugabe to rein in State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, saying that he is wreaking havoc in agriculture by authorizing continued takeovers of commercial farms.

Gono is concerned because his institution has poured 5.5 trillion Zimbabwe dollars– the equivalent of $55 million U.S. dollars – into loans to farmers this growing season, with particular attention to the horticultural segment. Now borrowers are warning the central bank they may not be able to repay their loans due to the disruption from the farm seizures on city peripheries where the export flower trade is concentrated.

The central banker is taking aim at Mutasa, who in addition to the security portfolio has the briefs for food security and land reform, because he is believed to have given the green light for the latest wave of farm invasions and seizures. One farm near the capital was taken over recently by police higher-ups to build housing for officers

Gono has told Mr. Mugabe the farm seizures are “tantamount to economic sabotage,” because flower exports are a key source of hard currency. Gono recently criticized business executives, alleging that firms withholding foreign exchange earnings.

For perspective on the controversy, reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Harare-based independent economist James Jowa.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...