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Zimbabwe Security Forces Step Into Debate Over Central Bank Chief

Zimbabwe's military and security agency chiefs have stepped into an increasingly rancorous dispute within the country's unity government over whether Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono should keep his job, declaring their full support of the embattled central banker.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday quoted Air Vice Marshall Henry Muchena as saying the Zimbabwe defense forces back Gono. He said the military was willing to go to war to defend Gono, who had resisted Western sanctions. The remarks were made Tuesday at the burial of Gono's brother, Peter, in Buhera, Manicaland province.

The paper reported that Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told mourners at the Gono burial that those demanding Gono’s removal - the Movement for Democratic Change formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara - are in effect demanding the ouster of President Robert Mugabe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party.

ZANU-PF said the army and security agency chiefs and party hardliners backing Gono have derived enormous financial benefits over the years from quasi-fiscal operations funding state operations and fear exposure should an audit of the central bank be conducted.

Independent member of parliament Jonathan Moyo, a former information minister, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mugabe was under no obligation to consult the MDC before re-appointing Gono late last year.

Political analyst John Makumbe, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe, said the military should not be meddling in politics and that a coup would be disastrous.

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