FORMER governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono, has been quietly sitting on gold deposits at his 4,000 hectare New Donnington Farm, located some 60 km southwest of Harare, Zim Morning Post has learnt.
A section of his employees who had endured years of erratic salaries are believed to have “invited” artisinal gold miners resulting in a gold rush that began late last year.
“We knew about the gold deposits for a long time but our salaries were paid in time. Trouble started when he (Gono) was retired and things were not well in most of his companies,” a highly placed source told Zim Morning Post.
“We stayed strong until we realised that we cannot die of hunger yet we were working at a place with a gold belt.”
Trusted sources revealed that the veteran banker had identified investors for a joint venture and discussions are underway.
“He is very sharp and clever. He wants a joint venture with big investors so that they can bring in sophisticated equipment. So he was not moved an inch when artisinal miners threatened to come in hordes for gold panning,” our source said.
Zimbabwe’s legislation requires that all gold is sold to Fidelity Printers and Refineries – a subsidiary of the RBZ.
It could not be immediately established which channel the retired governor employs to dispose of the gold at the farm.
An MDC top official, Roy Bennet (late), was involved in a similar case when he ‘secretly’ extracted diamonds found at his Charleswood farm in Chimanimani.
This revelation coincides with recent investigations carried out by this publication which established that FPR launched a gold mobilisation exercise on December 16 2019 which ran up to the end of May 2020.
The mandate of the mobilisation team was to enforce compliance on the small scale miners so that they declare their gold output, mobilise so that miners sell their gold to FPR as well as to make sure that all necessary paperwork is followed to the letter.
It is not clear whether the team had access and could account for such deposits found on farms.
During his stint as the central bank governor, Gono ran the economy with a great degree of freedom owing to his personal relationship with the late former president Robert Mugabe.
He, however, insisted there were several factors that were outside the central bank’s control, which made it difficult to reign in inflation.
His loyalty to Mugabe was evidenced by his involvement in the negotiations that eventually led to the late former president’s resignation.
That influence and political hegemony resulted in Gono, an RBZ governor from from 2003 to 2013, dipping his fingers in almost every sector of the economy.
At his peak, his empire included Omega Abattoir, Luna Chickens, Dobadoba Construction, Ecosoft, Phoenix Security, Earth Core, The Financial Gazette, Sun Estates and the Chivu based Vics Tavern Hotel, as well as several fuel concerns, including an oil transporting company, Avante, Malborough Service Station and a service station at Murambinda business centre in Buhera.
He later wholly or partly disposed of some shareholding upon his retirement as the country’s ‘banker in chief’ for a decade.
He recently made headlines for alleged corruption in the farm mechanization programme, but he has vehemently refuted same and produced “counter evidence” to absolve himself and some top politicians who were implicated.
Efforts to get a comment from Gono drew a blank.
At the time of publishing, he had not responded to questions sent to his mobile phone on Monday morning.