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Zimbabwe Central Banker Gono Seen Under Mounting Pressure to Resign

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono is under mounting pressure to step down after acknowledging this week that private foreign exchange accounts at the Reserve Bank were raided under his tenure to keep the former government afloat.

A statement issued by Gono on Monday concerning the unauthorized use of private funds to finance operations of the government of President Robert Mugabe was seen as an attempt to preempt a parliamentary inquiry into improper operations at the central bank.

Gono has also backtracked on an offer to give cars to new members of parliament, this under pressure from Finance Minister Tendai Biti of the Movement for Democratic Change. He urged lawmakers Monday to turn over cars they had received to the Ministry of Finance.

Meanwhile, Economic Planning Minister Elton Mangoma hinted at a conference in Pretoria early this week that Gono’s days at the central bank were numbered.

President Robert Mugabe has resisted calls from his Movement for Democratic Change partners in government for a new Reserve Bank governor to be appointed. Finance Minister Biti has made no secret of his wish to see Gono depart and be replaced.

Most economists fault Gono for fueling massive hyperinflation by printing huge amounts of Zimbabwe dollars to fund government operations and procure hard currency. Only a shift to a mixed hard-currency monetary regime this year restored price stability in the country.

Harare political analyst George Mkwananzi told reporter Gibbs Dube of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Gono's best option at this point is to tender his resignation.

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze of the trade union-funded Labor and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri that an independent forensic audit of central bank operations under Gono's tenure should be carried out.

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