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Mixed Reactions Over Gono's Move to Hire Biti

Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono
Former Finance Minister and Movement for Democratic Change secretary general Tendai Biti is on Thursday defending his decision to defend former central bank chief and Zanu-PF Buhera senate-elect Gideon Gono in court in a case that has become the latest lightning rod in Zanu-PF.

Gono’s former advisor at the central bank and independent Member of Parliament Munyaradzi Kereke is accusing his former boss of corruption.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo told VOA Studio 7 that the party has not received any formal objections to Gono’s decision to hire a political rival to represent him. Gumbo says the party is willing to discuss any objections.

But party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa is qouted in the state-controlled Herald newspaper as supporting Gono saying the former governor has the right to choose a lawyer of his choice.

But unnamed Zanu-PF officials qouted in the same newspaper are accusing Gono of “dinning with the enemy’”.

In his papers filed in the Constitutional Court, Kereke is alleging that Gono looted more than $37.5 million, 1.4 million rands and more than P21,500 in state funds which he converted to his personal use.

Biti told Studio 7 that he cannot talk about his clients with the media but added there is nothing unusual as he is a human rights lawyer and sees no conflict of interest.
MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora concurred saying that there is nothing wrong in Biti representing Gono as the MDC-T secretary general is just doing his job.

But MDC-T activists said the matter has rattled feathers in the party, especially since Biti as finance minister was in the forefront of attacking Gono’s policies and record at the RBZ.

Mwonzora said Zanu-PF is realising that the MDC-T has sharp legal minds hence Gono is turning to Biti.

But political analyst and project manager for Exxaro Resources, Paul Chimhosva, said it’s an unholy alliance.

Political analyst and Zimbabwe Institute for Democracy director Pedzisayi Ruhanya said Biti is merely doing his legal duties.

In a statement reacting to the lead story in Wednesday’s Herald newspaper headlined ‘Gono ties raise suspicion’, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the story is based on ‘emotive and baseless assertions that smack of a hidden political agenda”.

Moyo dismissed some contents of the story linking Kereke with the ruling party and that Gono was only endorsed by Manicaland province to take over the Buhera senate seat left vacant following the death of Kumbirai Kangai.

He said the newspaper “surprisingly took the route of a shameless smear campaign against Gono using the cover of cheap politics.”

“One does not need to be a rocket scientist to realise not only that the faceless and nameless sources in the unfortunate story are uncreative inventions but also that it is not possible for Kereke, who is clearly the main source of the scurrilous story, to be at one and the same time rolled into “senior Zanu PF officials” and “a Zanu PF Politburo member with close ties to the Zimbabwe Defence Forces,” Moyo said.