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Zimbabwe Central Bank Chief, Finance Minister Clash Over IMF Funds

Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti on Tuesday dismissed a request by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono for the principals in the unity government to intervene in a dispute between the two men over the use of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars that the International Monetary Fund recently made available to the country.

The special credit line of US$510 million was extended under a Group of 20 facility to help developing countries deal with the impact of the global economic downturn.

Gono reportedly said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime minister Arthur Mutambara - head of a rival MDC grouping - should instruct Biti to tap the US$510 million line to step up the pace of economic recovery.

Mr. Tsvangirai's formation of the Movement for Democratic Change, of which Biti is secretary general, has been demanding the removal of Gono from his post at the central bank, but Mr. Mugabe, who reappointed Gono in late 2008, has adamantly refused to do so.

The finance minister earlier said that if Zimbabwe, which has US$5.7 billion in external debt, drew on the credit line, it would do so in order to rebuild the national infrastructure.

Biti told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe in an exclusive interview that as finance minister he is the sole authority authorized to tap those funds, whose use must be approved by parliament, while issuing a scathing denunciation of Gono as the architect of Zimbabwe's steep economic decline over the past decade.

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