Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe boss has again been fingered in an embarrassing financial scandal as it has emerged that he gave the Foreign Exchange Licenced Warehouses and Shops (FOLIWARS) for free to Zanu-PF members, friends and relatives.
The licenses are pegged at US$20 000 but to date no one of those who are trading has paid such an amount. Said a source at the RBZ headquaters, “Nobody has paid for the RBZ licences because most of those trading in forex are related and friends to Gono. We are angry about the development because we are being denied an opportunity to trade in hard currency when the economy has been dollarised,”
According to the source Gono was empowering his Zanu-PF cronies as part of a looting strategy. Businesspeople linked to opposition politics are said to have been sidelined in getting licences to sell wares in United States dollars and Rands. “If you a Zanu-PF member, you are quick to be granted a licence without going through hustles. That’s an instruction we received from the Governor (Gono).
There is a lot of partisan, nepotism and favouritism in the allocation of forex licences,” said a top RBZ official who refused to be named for fear of victimisation. The corruption at the RBZ has riled the business community, which has since petitioned Gono to scrap the licences and allow people to trade in foreign currency freely.
The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce has handed over a petition to Gono asking him to suspend the FOLIWARS and free the market to control itself. In the document, the ZNCC said businesses are deeply concerned about the favouritism surrounding granting of licences.
The ZNCC complained that the US$20 000 required by the RBZ was beyond the reach of many. “We don’t have the money and we ask to pay later after we get licences because we are aware a lot of businesses are trading with licences they didn’t pay for,” read the petition.
The ZNCC vice-president Alfred Dube confirmed the petition to the central bank chief.