SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT: THE 2007/8 Farm Mechanisation Programme was above board: Taxpayers not saddled with the Bill.
First of all, I must express my prima-facie disappointment with my brother and friend of long time, Dr Magaisa for appearing not to have thoroughly read the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill which became Act in 2015. I say so because had he seemingly done so and gone through what Parliament approved, including the supporting schedules that make up the $1,3 billion debt taken over by Government, he would have noticed that there is no reference to a Farm Mechanisation Programme Debt there let alone a figure of $200m allegedly taken over by Government and saddled on the taxpayer via that Debt Assumption Bill of Act. There is none and no heading or description to that effect.
In this article, I have used the same document that Parliament used at that time and tried to summarise from it, because it’s a public document, the makeup of the RBZ debt taken over and the period during which such debt was contracted and for what purpose.
It was interesting to note that 24 percent of the debt taken over ($309,9m)was from period 1976/7 to 2001 and the balance (76 percent)($962,1m)was for the ten year period that I was Governor of the RBZ, with $578,9m(60 percent)of that amount being borrowed for fuel and electricity, $294,5m(31 percent) for maize, Fertilisers, chemicals and seed, $24,3m(2,5 percent) going to cars for ministries and special programmes like Bacossi, $26,5m (2,8 percent) being used for mineral audits by an international firm of experts and $7,5m(1 percent) being borrowed to meet mandatory retrenchment packages in 2011/12.Tobacco Farmers accrued Support stood at $22,5m( 2 percent) and Health and interest claims stood at $7,9m(1 percent).
Farm Mechanisation is not part of any of the amounts mentioned above NEITHER does it feature as a take-over debt by the State in term of that Bill or Act, and so one wonders where the conclusion that the taxpayer was or has been saddled with a $200m debt through the RBZ Debt Assumption Act is coming from. It is important to also state upfront that I had already retired and left the Bank in 2013 when the Debt Assumption Bill was crafted and gazetted in 2014 and subsequently passed into law in 2015. I cannot therefore be accused of having had a hand in its crafting or makeup two years after retiring. I have analysed what is in the public domain and used my knowledge and documentation of facts to arrive at what I have just given out.
I hope it is the same Bill and supporting documents that we are referring to and thus if we start from there, it will be clear that a serious misrepresentation has been fed to the public and taxpayer.
Having said that, I state openly that I was Governor in charge of the RBZ-driven Government Farm Mechanisation Programme during the most trying period of our country’s history, and to this end, I can speak more authoritatively and factually than most people as I was firmly in charge of that programme myself.
This pioneering programme had, like any other new initiative, its own challenges here and there but overall, the programme ran smoothly and was above board.
Governments the world over do carry out special programmes at various points in their life to address challenges of the times. Some of these programmes could be sector-driven, regionally-based, age-or-gender based, while others could be ethically, culturally, even racially and/or disaster-driven so designed to address certain unique dimensions of a particular time but all these programmes are usually geared to address extraordinary circumstances in an extraordinary way.
I recall in October/November 2009 when the former President, Cde R G Mugabe, former Prime Minister Dr M R Tsvangirai had to use a quasi-fiscal intervention to acquire the PM’s Highlands home for $1,5m just to settle a dispute over the residence status of Dr Tsvangirai which had become one of the sticky issues and had led to an MDC-T disengagement from Government of National Unity (GNU 16 October,2009). Approval to pay for the house was given to me on 13 November 2009 and the State acquired this “debt” and eventually wrote it off.
Both taxpayers belonging and not belonging to MDC-T have had to foot that bill. I don’t call it a burden when you weigh what could have negatively happened to our economy and government had the then PM remained outside Government and what eventually, then happened after the MDC-T returned to the table.
The economy under GNU flourished. Some costs are of a national character and we must avoid the temptations to portray ourselves as paragons of virtue when in fact, given the facts, we can all see the rationale for State interventions at particular times in our history. At the time of the said quasi-fiscal intervention related to the personal residence of the late PM (MHDSRIEP), my brother and learned friend was working in the then PM’s Office as advisor or in some other capacity.
The IMF, in August 2009, responding to a global economic crisis, had to intervene through a $250 billion SDR instrument in a way that sought to promote the attainment of IMFs purposes and avoid economic stagnation and deflation as well as excess demand and inflation. It used the authority under its Articles of Agreement to do so.
Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary interventions and those who question them after the event beg the curious questions of motive, timing, source of data and questions, authenticity and credibility of source data if it is not from the source itself, in this case the RBZ itself or myself as the driver of the pioneering rescue programme.
The country has had to buy aeroplanes and charged the cost to taxpayers even though not everyone flies in those planes. . .we have had youth programmes, women’s programmes, health-sector frontline staff programmes, miners and farmers’ programmes, all charged to the national fiscus even tough beneficiaries are individuals, some getting more than others depending on criteria in use.
During the same difficult period, under a programme code-named The Health Sectors Skills Retention Scheme, an RBZ-initiative meant to retain our doctors and health workers (who were about to leave the country for greener pastures leaving their mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters without adequate attention) saw us “give” to individual doctors cars which till today have never been paid for neither has Government asked them to pay.
That intervention was not a loan. Not all the doctors received the cars as the programme had to stop after GNU but the initial intention was to give every doctor and health worker means to get to work without having to ask them to pay for it.
Those cars are still on the road and anyone can verify that with the hospitals. The cost was borne by the State. It would be unfair, if someone came across the list of beneficiaries to claim and label them as “looters” without sufficient background to the intervention.
Like the Farm Mechanisation, this medical sector intervention was made public and the allocation were done following a particular criterion that was specific to the health sector and without regard to gender, political affiliation, religious belonging or enthinicity.
In the farming sector the world over, governments subsidise farmers, governments buy farms and equipment for them so the farmers can grow food for the nations concerned. Some countries even go further, in difficult times, to buy the farmers produce only to throw it away, so as to just keep a farmer on the land. The money so used to buy the crop thrown away is charged to the national budget and in the end, it all depends on the objectives of the State-sponsored programme(s) at that particular point time. That’s how nations survive.
Some of these activities are publicised others are not. Those in the know of how economic crises the world over are dealt with will confirm that the Quantitative Easing Programmes in the USA, Europe and elsewhere are never put on balance sheets of individual beneficiaries but are carried by the State with sub-accounting being done at micro level later.
After initially deciding at inception( 2007/8)that the Farm Mechanisation Programme would be paid for by beneficiaries, a GNU was consummated in 2009 and when in 2010 the RBZ sought guidance on the matter, there was change of heart by the inclusive government who, through cabinet minister Dr Joseph Made, advised, initially verbally but subsequently in writing, that Government( as in inclusive)had decided in 2012 to include the programme as part of its national Mechanisation and Irrigation and that was end of story.
The term ” Debt” referred to in my letter to the Minister relates to ministries owing the RBZ for interventions made on their behalf. At a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance and Investment Promotion presentation made at Parliament on 18 July, 2011, all this information was provided to the Committee and page 5, para 2:12 detailed “Debts” owed to RBZ by Government as follows:
Min of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development $572,5m; GMB $605,4m; Min of Finance $225,9m; ZESA $100,4m, Noczim $14,8m; Min of Foreign Affairs $7,5m; Min of Health $1,9m and various other ministries $7,5m all coming to a total of $1,5billion which was a debt owed to RBZ against which $1,3m was supposed to be deducted leaving RBZ with a net positive position of $200m.
This situation showed that the RBZ was never going to be a burden to anyone if Government had paid the Bank its dues. The Debt Assumption Bill of 2014/15 was and became a one-legged bookkeeping entry, a debit to the fiscus with a corresponding credit entry.
I tried to ask the Portfolio Committee in 2014/15 Hon David Chapfika to allow me to come and explain to Parliament but was denied the opportunity because “I was now retired” and he went on a tangent thereby creating the erroneous impression that the RBZ Debt take-over was about Farm Mechanisation when in fact there was never and there not a single line on that debt-takeover schedule that refers to Farm Mechanisation debt of the figure often talked about!
The Debt Assumption Bill is a public document and anyone can check and cross check, it does not refer to Farm Mechanisation debts at all!
If anything, the $1,3billion RBZ Debt Assumption Bill of 2015, now an Act, talks of the following key amounts and I’m surprised that learned minds are running amok making clearly unsubstantiated allegations to the effect that Farm Mechanisation was the basis of that Bill now Act.
Vakomana nevasikana, inga makaenda ku chikoro wani. . .we regard you are our pillars of knowledge, dissection and intelligence. . . society does not call you “learned members for nothing” but you are disappointing!
Categories of the RBZ Debt Take-Over Act of 2015.
a) Bank Negara ( Malaysia) debt contracted in 1991 remained unpaid $42,9m.
b) IMF debt contracted in 1996 remained unpaid $100,3m.
c) Miekles Debt contracted in 1998 remained unpaid $47,1m.
d) Anglo-American, debt contracted in 2001 remained unpaid $109,6m.
e) South African Reserve Bank facility contracted before independence and kept being rolled over $10,0m.
Total Debt assumed by the State for period before I took over as Governor in December,2003 $309,9m.(24 percent).
Debts Period 2004-2013 Taken Over by the State:
a) Fuel: Equatorial Guinea $221,9m
b) Electricity/fuel loans $357,0m
c) Maize, Seed/Fertilisers $294,5m
d) Motor Vehicles $24,3m
e) Minerals Audit $26,5m
f) Tobacco Farmers Support $22,5m
g) Staff Retrenchment $7,5m
h) Medical Supplies/Interest $7,9m
Total New Debt Assumed(2004-13) $962,4m (76 percent)
None of the above headings refer to Farm Mechanisation Debts assumed by the State; none too, refers to the former PM’s residence payment, all of which were absorbed internally from accumulated revenues, some of which was of an exchange rate nature and seigniorage.
It will be recalled by those who care to remember that sometime in 2012/13 the same inclusive Government decided to assume and write off the Zesa electricity and water bills of citizens across the board regardless of name, position, political affiliation, gender, ethnicity or financial standing in society.
I guess local authorities and ZESA will now be required by BSR (Big Saturday Read, the blog by Dr Alex Magaisa) to publish the names of all beneficiaries of that programme so that they pay back what they derived by way of that benefit. I’m sure BSR will lead in that process.
I am however of the view that Parliament should repeal those sections of the various laws that criminalise disclosures of beneficiaries of public programmes in the interests of good governance, transparency and promotion of sound economic management to avoid reliance on leaks and distortions of the nature we are witnessing and one would have hoped that my learned brothers and sisters in various political and public spheres would spent more time scrutinising and sanitising such inhibitive clauses as exist in a number of current legislative pieces of governance than waste time on fishing expeditions that are incompetent at law and irrelevant in present circumstances where energies must be focused on COVID-19 related preventive measures so that our families and everyone remains safe and alive.
The country cannot move too much ahead if citizens operate and depend on investigative journalism where such investigations are an unnecessary expenditure of effort, money and sweat. The information must just be available when needed and the recent repeal of AIPPA is a step in the right direction even though it threatens the existence of those who have made a living through investigative journalism.
Once issues are brought to light and both sides to the equation are given fair space to air their position(s) on any subject, society should be the final arbiter not individual opinions and not premeditated postulations .
Zimbabwe has, in drought years often written off farmers’ loans and equally in disaster years, certain areas of the country and individuals in that area have had their houses and infrastructure built for them and that cost written off or carried by the State without regard to ones standing in society. You just needed to fit the criteria and you are a beneficiary.
One could be a judge, a priest, a soldier, teacher, nurse or headmaster from a given area that’s been targeted for State Assistance and you will benefit. Such is the nature of realities the world over except that the practice here has been one of not publicising the names and in the process, create an impression of a scandal or corruption where in reality it is not the case.
As stated already, Brother Magaisa, and company talk of transparency and good governance that comes with publication of information; this is positive debate but then people should not be selective in their dissemination of information as seems to have been the case in the BSR. Why were prominent figures in the MDC-A and MDC-T not mentioned?
Hon. T Khupe, Acting President of MDC-A Hon.Welshman Ncube, the late Hon. Gasela (MHDSRIEP), late Hon Dumiso Dabengwa( MHDSRIEP) and many others from MDC-T and MDC-A as well as other political and social formations who were not published in the said BSR were beneficiaries of this noble programme. Several Hon Members of Parliament and Senators, across the divide, also benefited from other State Programmes for which they were not required to pay back. The issue of cost and benefit must not however be a one legged accounting entry. We must account for the benefit the State got from the individual concerned.
These benefits relate to employment creation and keeping people of the streets of hunger, social delinquency and crime, tax paid to the State by the employees who would otherwise remain unemployed, exports generated in some cases and import substitutions, among others. I bring this out so that we are not parochial or blinded by emotions.
Surely if we are talking about benefiting from State resources which were not paid back and we want to name and shame, I have no problem giving out names of all chiefs, headman and rural area people who benefited from the Mechanisation Programme for Brother Magaya and Company to institute recovery proceedings, including from about 1,5million households of 6 persons or more each, who benefited Bacossi Food Hamper Programme and Honourables who benefited from Motor Vehicles, Generators, funeral assistances, forex travel and hotel subsidies. Many of these beneficiaries are still alive and some are retired from Government while some are still very active in various political circles, crying the loudest with the twitter handles but forgetting their beneficial associations with either the Mugabe dispensation, the GNU or current dispensation. Its gonna be a long journey but records don’t disappear just because one has retired.
Individuals in the following institutions who got cars from the RBZ could be put on notice, as the BSR wants, for repayment: Zimra, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Defence, Local Government, Air Zimbabwe, Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Ministry of Justice & Legal Affairs, Ministry of Lands and Rural Resettlement, Ministry of Information & Publicity, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of Public Service, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Transport, ZIMSEC, Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Republic Police, Noczim, NRZ, UZ, Midlands State University, NUST, Great Zimbabwe University, ZOU, Zimbabwe Women’s University, National Incomes and Pricing Commission, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, Parliamentarians, the Judiciary, Chitungwiza Hospital, Chinhoyi Hospital, Parirenyatwa Hospital, Ingutsheni Hospital, ZESA, ZINWA, District Development Fund( tractors), Harare Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospital, Marondera Hospital, Mutare Hospital, Gwanda Hospital, Masvingo Hospital, Gweru Hospital, Bindura Hospital, Chinhoyi and Norton Hospitals, War Veterans, all beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme (A1 and A2) who received fertilisers, chemicals, seeds and agricultural price subsidies, persons and victims and survivors of the 2007/8 cholera attacks, those who were rescued after floods, disasters and accidents under my watch in 2007/8.
Some in the Labour Movement could also be having some repayments to make and I’m sure Minister of Finance will never need a supplementary budget again for the next decade if everyone pays up.
All local authorities, Mayors, present and past and councillors from Harare to Bulawayo, Norton, Chitungwiza, Ruwa, Gweru, Mutare, Masvingo, Bindura who were beneficiaries of various programmes of our attempts to resuscitate our economy may also expect to be put on notice, thanks to BSR.
The AMH, publishers of the Independent and Newsday, Zimpapers Group, Financial Gazette, the ANZ, publishers of the Daily News stable, ZBC and others may need to pay back what the State paid to them via the Reserve Bank whether directly or by way of subsidies for any of their inputs and raw materials when they needed assistance at those critical times.
The same could apply to those private sector companies and supermarkets that were assisted by the State under the instrumentality of Operation Restore Productivity of 2007/8. This will apply to, among many others, GMB, Victoria Foods, National Foods, Blue Ribbon Foods in respect of Maize Meal, rice, salt and Flour for the people; GMB, Lobels, Bakers Inn, Harambe Holdings in respect of bread, Olivine Industries, United Refineries, Surface Investments in respect of cooking oil, Cold Storage Commission ( CSC), Irvines, Crest Breeders, CFI, Colcom and the Veterinery Services Department in respect of Meat, Star Africa, Hippo Valley, Triangle and Zimbabwe Sugar Distributors in respect of sugar, Delta corporation and Schweppes in respect of beverages like Mazoe, Coke, Fanta, beers and other cordials, Unilever in respect of soap.
It should be clear to everyone that matter of the state and governance are not as easy as tweeting. They are real and one must be guided by practicalities and theory.
Subsidies are a form of State intervention on behalf of the people. It is unfair to want to be selective in our analysis of what the State ends up taking over as costs to the taxpayer. . . some costs can be attributed directly to particular points of entry even though they benefit everyone, including those who unwittingly criticise and see evil in them. The records are there and we must not be lazy to carry out a fish-bone analysis of these interventions and see who in the end was the beneficiary of what and get them to pay so that proponents of BSR can be happy. But who will sponsor the exercise… it cannot be the State but he who makes the accusation of impropriety: he should go all the way, lest we question the motives of the article, it’s source, sincerity and timing.
For the sake of emphasis I repeat: if we are going to do justice to the idea of rubbishing State interventions of the nature carried out under very difficult circumstances under my watch while others were enjoying life out there without experiencing the going’s on here, then let’s go all the way as proposed by what the priests and paragons of virtue are saying. There should be no half-measures. I advocate for a practical and not theoretical, armchair-type academic stuff. Let us embrace transparency in its totality and I’m ready for it.
Some of today’s critics were just kids still in high school or at university 13 or so years ago and so they may not even know how their education got subsidized… let’s trace it back… What’s good for the gander must be good for the goose.
I have kept quiet all these years when people made all sorts of comments and attacks on my integrity and that of the RBZ but my silence has been mistaken for acquiescence. Nothing could be father from the truth. Let’s organize debates around what happened and a few of the armchair critics will be surprised with the truth behind the scenes which I have not yet bothered to put out there.
Closer to home, the cost of the Land Reform Programme which however did not directly benefit every taxpayer, and is now a national debt to be paid for and/or serviced by the State and according to the BSR thinking, the beneficiaries should also be put on notice to repay the State. That’s what the implications of Dr Magaisa’s BSR is saying.
At independence, there are debts and obligations which were assumed by the new government even though the said debts or loans included some whose proceeds were used to purchase weaponry that killed and maimed the same taxpayers who today have to meet the burden of repayment.
A closer look at the RBZ … Having been at the central bank myself, I came across such loans dating back to the 1970’s and we still honoured them against revenue from taxpayers.
Things were tough and farming was not everyone’s cup of tea in 2007/8. The food importation bill was huge and the idea of a 3 year roll-out programme to Mechanize our farmers became a priority. Methods had to be found to entice and excite farmers to be on the land.We had a clear, productivity-related selection criteria based on a record of past performance on one’s farm and no other criteria. It was not region or political affiliation neither was it a criterion that looked at one’s standing in society. Every beneficiary was referred to GMB for record of past grain delivery.
The programme was meant to run up until 31 December,2010 by which time all farmers would have been capacitated. Unfortunately, it ended in mid-2008, 2,5years earlier.
We gave out animal drawn implements to rural farmers worth about $300m and wrote-off that expenditure against the Bank’s income and spent about $198m on imported Mechanised farm equipment. We did the same thing and fully expensed that outlay.
The most expensive equipment were combine harvesters, some costing upwards of $150,000 apiece and if one included both wheat and maize heads, it was not unusual for one complete set plus a big tractor to call for $300-350,000 just for such that basic equipment. Of cource some equipment and combinations were more or less in total.
Anyone who has tried to do farming will know these facts and realize that it’s not an easy game to go into farming, hence some of the figures thrown around by the good Dr of Laws as alarming are actually basic. You need more to do real farming!
No equipment was given out as a LOAN to anyone. The good Doctor is an expert not just at law but banking as well. He will be the first one to understand what a loan contract is and how a loan is obtained, it’s tenure, cost elements and terms of repayment in order for such a transaction to qualify as a loan. None of these elements existed in contractual terms between beneficiaries and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, hence no repayment was expected and none was demanded by the Bank after consulting with the GNU government.
This does not however mean that the Bank was not going to recover it’s liquidity outlay from the vote of the ministry responsible for that exercise, hence we called it a Debt in our books (owed not by beneficiaries but by Government through the responsible ministry) and it is that ministry which in turn would ask Treasury to assume the liquidity reimbursement back to RBZ, same pocket but different hands so to speak.
Because the programme was cut short before it covered everyone with a farm or piece of land who needed equipment, some of those who did not get the implements felt short-changed and started complaining that their neighbours had benefited unfairly while they didn’t. Naturally the human instinct of petty jealousies took over and our noble activities got unduly politicized.
We currently are all witnesses to the futility of trying to turn around our economy in an environment of mutual suspicion, intolerance, hate-speeches and the politicization of certain programmes which if our politicians were singing from the same hymn, would have been moving smoothly but they are not. Government is going its own way while some of the political players are at a tangent.
As a result, it is easy to whip up emotions and see evil where no evil exists, hear noise where sweet melodies should be heard and to fight where brotherly embraces ought to be order of the day.
I conclude by stating categorically here that was absolutely no scandal, no corruption and no mistaken belief, after guidance from Government, that the beneficiary farmers were to pay, no. Nothing went extraordinarily bad in the execution of this Mechanisation Programme and everything was done publicly, transparently and accounting records were kept of each beneficiary.
This was a duly Government-sanctioned Programme which was always graced by the relevant minister, that of Agriculture and Mechanisation. It was not an RBZ programme per se.
A look at the schedule making up the $1,3b debt assumption does not have the $200m referred to by the learned Doctor, hence my calling him ” off-side” in the Sunday Mail of 19 July,2020. A quick check with the one who was in charge then would have served all the excitement even from people who were in government and should know better. When in cabinet, the decisions you take are collective and not individual and when ministers speak, they represent the whole government not just their ministries. Dr Made spoke on behalf of the whole government when he communicated the decision not to charge farmers for the equipment.
The schedules Dr Magaisa purports to have are internal schedules and I cannot vouch for their accuracy let alone authenticity because no one authenticated them. Those in the legal profession do exercise caution regarding the admissibility or otherwise of evidence collected surreptitiously. I notice some beneficiaries are trying to distance themselves from the noble programme by thinking that paying or not paying was an act of shame or heroism. Well, it’s a free country and if their conscience is troubling them, and are willing and capable of paying, they should go to RBZ and pay but there is NO obligation to do so on anyone in respect of that particular programme and I make no apology for giving this advisory stance but we cannot live on intimidation or be chameleonic about it, being one thing on Monday to Thursday but another on Friday to Sunday. No.
As a banker, I indeed refused to divulge names of beneficiaries even after I retired, because breaking confidentiality not how banking is done. Banking is a game of trust and confidence but when challenged, I have had to break that code of conduct.
Just as it is not right to demand a patient’s medical records simply because he or she has been treated in a government hospital whose staff and other costs are met by the taxpayer, we must desist from asking people’s banking or personal details just because they are in a government bank. Confidentiality remains confidentiality regardless of point of cure or medication.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, the RBZ is, like most central banks, is a creature of statute. It can only do that which it is specifically obligated to do by law.
The Bank undertook quasi-fiscal activities are the behest of Government and in the national interest. This was in accordance with Section 8 of the RBZ Act (Chapter 22:15) (unamended) which read in 8(i i )” Nothing in this section shall prevent the State from carrying on transactions in such a manner as the State may require and if, so requested by the State, the Bank shall make the necessary arrangements to this end”.
The Bank had formal ministerial authorizations to Act as it did. No illegality there and no corruption either!
My team and I at the Bank did not feel obliged to disclose the names of beneficiaries of the Farm Mechanisation Programme when requested by Parliament at the time because, as the learned Doctor will agree, it is and was not in the public interest to disclose internal accounting information in violation of public policy as it related to information covered by the Official Secrets Act( Chapter 11:09); information exempted from disclosure under the then (unrepealed) Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act( Chapter10:27); and information under the Banking Act( Chapter 24:20).I have already proposed that these sections be amended through Parliament to enhance transparency and accountability in a modern democratic society. Until our parliamentarians do that, it will remain an uphill task to get information of the nature we are talking about.
For me and my team, it was important that The RBZ, had valid instructions from the Minister as defined in the Act, and that we were undertaking the Mechanisation Programme on behalf of the State for the good of Zimbabwe.
The participation in the Programme of certain institutions forwarded to us by Government constituted information entrusted to the Bank by the State relating to such institutions. Section 4(i)(d)(ii )of the Act criminalises disclosure of information… ” for any purpose which could be prejudicial to the safety or interests of Zimbabwe ” and such disclosures would have been criminal offenses in terms of section 4(2)(b) and 5(2)(b) of the same Act. An example is the disclosures by Dr Magaisa which have potential to cause disaffection and despondency between the population and certain offices of the State and Judiciary.
The unfortunate conclusions reached by the influential learned brother have the potential to cause public unrest in an environment already pregnant with its own anger-points and anxieties from other quarters. This plays into the hands of those erroneously convinced that the RBZ Farm Mechanisation Programme of 2007/8 was riddled with fraud and corruption when in fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
I question and challenge the accuracy and authenticity of the documentation before the good Doctor. I can categorically state that he has been given half-backed data and information for purposes far removed from telling the truth. The good Doctor may need to go back to his sources. I am a banker, an accountant and a chartered secretary trained to keep accurate records of events and my experience as an accountant does help a bit to understand issues more clearly than if I was not. I would urge caution against taking those numbers and information as gospel truth.
Today’s e-world can be treacherous… people can create false documents that look official.
For all I know and given the respect I hold for VaMagaisa, I think it’s unfair to do this to him. VaMagaisa is a champion of honesty and I have never before had occasion to question the integrity of his writings, until today.
I hope more effort will not be spared to secure a more authentic document with more accurate information than so far disseminated, including issuing early apologies if he deems it necessary. That would be my advice to him.
What’s been done already could be subject to serious challenge with catastrophic unintended consequences to the reputation of my good learned brother and Doctor. It is my trust, prayer and hope that those individuals erroneously injured by this Saturday’s BSR will forgive my brother and quickly get out of the shock of being labelled financial absconders of low moral standing in matters finance, debt contraction and banking.
To Baba Guti and everyone mentioned, my apologies for your being dragged into this mess. Your role in trying to feed this country at a most difficult time in its history will never be forgotten. You were and remain loyal to your fellow Zimbabweans. Every grain of maize or wheat that was produced by everyone helped to feed our people at a time when forex was so scarce and our politicians were, like now, at each other’s throats while Rome was burning.
I also thank the many diasporans who helped feed their families back home then and are still doing so today during these trying times. Without that support, many would not have made it to today.
I note that my brother Dr Magaisa is complaining about my sharing the WhatsApp exchange we had had yesterday. In fact, I did not release his WhatsApps to me which came long after an hour and I had already engaged the Sunday to say that I had tried to reach him in vain. I repeat, I did not release his what’s up to me but my WhatsApp to him. After all, he had shared erroneous information with the whole world without bothering to get in touch with me which he should have done seeing he was running with my letter to Minister Made without verifying with me first. He was making accusations about a programme that had run under my watch. Who between us committed a breach of comradeship? Do unto others what you expect from them is a useful biblical point of reference. Nothing personal but basa se basa. As promised, I’m sending you this piece directly without cutting my rights to get it into the public domain through other channels besides yours.
I rest my case.
Dr Gideon Gono
Rtd. Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (2003-13).
Sunday 19 July, 2020.