HARARE - Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, yesterday came out guns blazing, lashing fiercely at his one-time aide Munyaradzi Kereke and the State media.
The Harare businessman, who has been taken to court by Kereke on allegations of gross corruption and abuse of office when he was at the helm of the central bank, said he was prepared to stand trial on any charges that were levelled against him.
“Unlike some people who cannot be brought before, or have no guts to face the courts even for glaring and serious allegations of violence against women, property and child sexual abuses because they are allegedly well-connected in circles that deal with such matters, I am happy to stand trial for each and every misdemeanour I am accused of and the sooner the better so that we can get on with delivering our other developmental promises to the people at this very trying time without these irritations,” Gono told the Daily News yesterday.
This was an implicit reference to the pending rape allegations against Kereke in which an 11-year-old (now 14-year-old) victim’s attorney, Charles Warara, has petitioned the police to act on the alleged sexual abuse, saying the justice system that should be protecting her was letting her down very badly.
“I have been a silent victim of several unfounded accusations including allegedly causing the disappearance of someone’s wife and child — a matter that has been buried and never heard of since it was widely reported last year by Kereke,” Gono added, in apparent reference to claims by Kereke that his wife and daughter “just vanished” on September 13, last year.
“It would be nice to find out from the authorities why in some countries, the disappearance of even one child results in a massive public drive to find that child but here in Zimbabwe, the disappearance of a whole mother and child does not cause alarm or public comment by authorities who are supposed to look after us all...or interviews with suspects.
“Where are our women and child protection groups? Why are they not concerned by the reported disappearance of a mother and child? Are they alive? If dead, have their remains or graves been identified?
“Why haven’t I been asked to account for those disappearances since I was fingered? These and many more false allegations shall unmask who between us is mentally demented or being used for political ends. Why and by who? I have asked Kereke to prove his allegations against me for this and many more,” a peeved Gono charged further.
He also alleged that there were people who were using the State media to settle scores against him.
“For now, therefore, let those who cannot resist the temptation to use the State media at every turn to either influence public opinion against me and my family or attempt to usurp the role and powers of the courts continue to have a field day undeterred, even though the risk is very high that those being used could be adding to their financial woes and digging their economic graves with their teeth as time will come and come soon for them to account for their actions in our courts for their over-zealousness,” Gono said.
Turning to the issue of him hiring MDC lawmaker Tendai Biti as his lawyer in the case brought before the courts by Kereke, he told the Daily News unequivocally that it was his “prerogative and constitutional right” to hire a venerable anyone he wished to, to deal with the barrage of headline-grabbing graft allegations that had been made against him — including damaging claims that he compromised the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) by offering its commissioners undue inducements. On the allegations that are before the courts, Gono said: “Unlike some people who are charging, pre-trying, convicting and pre-sentencing me before the courts have even started their job, I’m not going to mimic their weaknesses and act like the evil that I’m fighting against by speaking or pronouncing myself to the media on any matter that is before the courts.
“To do so would no doubt be regarded as being in contempt of our court and judicial processes. It is basic knowledge that matters before the courts are sub-judice. Let us therefore allow due process of the law to take place and after that we can talk at liberty and interpret my actions with facts”.
However, he was happy to say that he had not done anything wrong and that he would fight the accusations and prove his innocence.
The 54-year-old Gono who has a pending $10 million defamation suit before the High Court against Kereke said the 41-year-old maverick businessman was levelling many accusations against him with the intention to harm him and his interests.
He said that he had asked for trial dates in the defamation case against Kereke, which was being handled by Edwin Manikai of Dube Manikai and Hwacha, since June last year, without success to date.
“Yet the same person I am supposed to take to court and for whom I cannot get a date, wakes up in the morning, recycles the same old allegations against me and in the evening the state media is already pre-judging, taking sides and convicting me,” Gono said.
The State media has questioned the Buhera Senate nominee’s suitability for a legislative seat and also questioned his choice of Biti as legal counsel, casting aspersions on where Gono’s allegiances lay.
“The team or who I choose to be my legal representative is my prerogative and constitutional right of choice so long as that team or person will, in my judgement, best serve and protect my interests without being compromised or intimidated by forces behind some of those making allegations against me for reasons that are far removed from facts, but rather, for political expediency,” Gono said.
Reacting to the storm over his hiring by Gono, Biti told the Daily News yesterday: “It’s the hallmark of madness. Who haven’t I represented in that Cabinet? My comment is that I don’t comment on client matters”.
High-placed sources said the crusade against Gono was meant to forestall his Senate appointment, which has been seen by one Zanu PF faction as a precursor to his appointment to the finance portfolio currently held by Patrick Chinamasa, a lawyer by profession.