By Lance Guma
Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) Governor, Gideon Gono, has angrily denied claims that the late President Robert Mugabe had confided in him to warn then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) Commander Constantino Chiwenga that President Emmerson Mnangagwa “was a ticking political time bomb for the country, who needed to be contained one way or the other.”
On Friday, the Europe based Spotlight Zimbabwe website ran an article titled: “Mugabe told Gono to tell Chiwenga that Mnangagwa was a time bomb for Zimbabwe after coup” in which it quoted an unnamed Mugabe family aide who claimed Mugabe “had a two hour conversation with Gono, during which he asked him to relay his final Mnangagwa warning message to Chiwenga.”
But in an exclusive interview with Nehanda Radio, Gono said “while I do not normally respond to all that’s written about me” the story was fiction. He said although “our families were close” and he was a close confidant of the late former president “at no time was I ever instructed or sent to deliver a message to the Hon Vice-President, Dr C G N Chiwenga as alleged by the said publication.”
The article went further to claim “Mugabe who had offered Chiwenga to take over from him at the height of the coup, as a counter move against Mnangagwa’s ambitions for the presidency, also reportedly advised the VP to remain ZDF chief and settle for nothing less than a presidium appointment in Mnangagwa’s government, as a means of buffering his power.”
But Gono said the author of the article “truthfully confesses that she did not speak to or get comment from me prior to publication. I am not a media person, but something tells me that such journalistic irresponsibility not to contact the alleged primary source does cast a dark cloud over the credibility of the story and the professionalism of the author behind it.”
While the article claimed its source was a relative or aide of the late President now living in South Africa who alleges he or she was there when the alleged conversation took place Gono said this could not have been possible as “most of the times after my retirement as Governor in November 2013, it would be the former First Lady in attendance or just the two of us, RG and myself at home.”
“No aide or relative was ever present or invited to our meetings to discuss anything business or personal with me. It is therefore preposterous for anyone to suggest that a relative or aide could be the source of this fertilized imaginary happening neither can it be attributed the former FL (First Lady) because such a conversation never took place with her present or absent.”
“Whoever therefore is spreading these lies, with whatever objective or agenda, and trying to involve me in any plots or acts of disaffection with the President should please desist from doing so in my name and retreat to the nearest corner of truth, decency, respect and observe the sanctity of facts.
Gono says “I became privileged to be a confidante of many Zimbabweans in high, middle and low positions in our country and society.” He listed the late Vice Presidents John Nkomo, Joseph Msika and Simon Muzenda, the late opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, former VP Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime-Ministers Arthur Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe among other leading figures.
“It is the current president (Mnangagwa) who appointed me CEO of CBZ in 1994 when he was acting Minister of Finance and we continued to work together during those years and as Governor at RBZ including after my retirement. I continue to avail myself to him and to serve Government in whatever capacity if called upon to. I recently loyally completed my 3 year tour of duty as Chairman of the now repealed Zimbabwe Special Economic Zones Authority.
“I also loyally served all arms of the Defense Forces of this country ( ZDF) under the the Commander Defence Forces now Hon Vice President Dr Chiwenga; I loyally served the State Security Apparatus under several State and Home Affairs ministers who include now Hon. Vice President Mohadi and at that time also became their confidante and banker.”
Gono said at no point had he been “a betrayer of their confidence or perpetrator of any spirit of division between them, other than to unite and promote oneness among them by not being a rumour monger or carrier of news detrimental to the callings of their offices.”
“No wonder, when all else seemed to be failing, I was, at 20:00hrs on 17 November, 2017 called upon to step in and intermediate between former President Mugabe, his family and Commanders of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces led by the then CDF, now V P Chiwenga. I have successfully carried out several intermediation missions since the mid 1990s when I had became of age!
“How we, as the three parties (RG, Commanders and myself) succeeded to break the resignation impasse right to the day of actual resignation of the then President and subsequent behind-the-scenes negotiations for peace and and reconciliation remain unknown to many and the real truth untold to date. That’s how matters of statecraft are handled.
“It is therefore ludicrous to a point of contemptuous amusement for anyone to suggest or think that I could, or would, for whatever reason, release a tit-bit of any conversation, real or imaginary, that could have taken or took place between anyone or anybody above and myself about anyone or anybody.
Gono said his relationship with both Mnangagwa and Chiwenga dated back to 1994. “I have not, over the years I have worked with or served them, detected any bad blood between them. The same applies to my relationship and working tenure with Hon VP Mohadi.
“I’m enjoying my retirement post 40 years of loyal national and private sector service nowhere else but to Zimbabwe so please, speculators, leave me out of your machinations.
“I enjoy good relations with and support our President and the entire leadership this country at the political, business, religious and social levels.
“I have learnt over the years that taking legal action against some dodgy websites of no permanent abode is an exercise in futility. I will let sleeping dogs lie.” Nehanda Radio