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British Government Denies Visa To Zimbabwean Central Banker Gideon Gono

Confirming that it is taking an even harder line on Zimbabwe than its predecessor, the government of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has refused entry to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, considered a Harare moderate.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported Friday that Britain denied Gono a visa August 17 because the Home Office said his presence would be" inappropriate." The notification also accused him of being "involved in corrupt practices which have undermined democracy and the rule of law in Zimbabwe," the Herald said.

London added that a visit by Gono could increase community tension in light of the protests that greeted the central banker on his 2004 visit to Britain to promote the HomeLink program for emigré remittances of much-needed foreign exchange.

The visa refusal follows a heated debate in the British House of Commons last month during which the government revealed that it was struggling to convince fellow members of the European Union to put Gono on the EU sanctions list.

Mr. Brown’s Labor Party and the Conservative opposition both urged tougher action on Harare including a ban on visits by Gono. He is already on the travel sanctions lists established by the United States, Australia and New Zealand travel.

Reserve Bank spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo told the Herald it is up to the Zimbabwean people, not Britain, to decide if Gono’s actions are inimical to their interests.

London-based foreign affairs analyst Innocent Chofamba-Sithole, former editor in chief of Harare's Sunday Mirrror, told Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mr. Brown's relatively new government is taking a harder line on Harare than the EU.

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