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Zimbabwe Central Banker Sounds Alarm on Corruption, Economy

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono took aim at corrupt officials in his latest quarterly monetary policy statement on Tuesday, accusing top officials of “failing the economy” and the country by engaging in corrupt activities and graft.

The country must also re-establish economic ties with the rest of the world, he said. "As Zimbabwe, we cannot go it alone, and it is imperative that we seek to work with other international business partners, particularly those that see the virtues and sincerity of our efforts and wish us well," he said in a televised address.

The central banker warned that the economy was “at the edge of the cliff” with hyper-inflation spiraling even higher and with corruption “widespread and deep-rooted. Gono told the country that "we are, as Zimbabweans, fast losing our integrity and sense of economic justice and fairness as a people, right across the board.”

He acknowledged that consumer inflation, which was clocked at a 585% annual rate in December, would probably continue to rise towards 800%.

With the Zimbabwean currency trading at $96,000 to the U.S. dollar, a 90% decline in the past year, he also announced that his institution will introduce a new Z$50,000 bill on Feb. 1. Currently the largest denomination Zimbabwean bill is Z$20,000.

Gono’s urgent remarks on the economy and the damage caused by corruption came just as an International Monetary Fund delegation arrived in the country to consult with Harare officials on an economy that by all indications continues to contract.

IMF officials also want more information on the source of recent Zimbabwe payments on debt service arrears at the global lender of last resort, following allegations that the central bank tapped foreign exchange holdings in corporate and personal accounts.

The state-run Herald newspaper said Tuesday that the country paid $15 million to the IMF against its general resources account, bringing recent payments to $17.5 million.

Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked independent economist James Jowa of Harare whether the latest payments on the country’s IMF debt would eliminate the danger of Zimbabwe being asked to resign its membership.

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