Bank head to be quizzed

HARARE - The governor of Zimbabwe's central bank will appear before a special parliamentary committee next week to give evidence on top officials allegedly hoarding vast sums of cash, official media said yesterday.

Since late last year thousands of Zimbabweans have struggled to get their money out of banks.

The shortages have been blamed on influential people hoarding vast quantities of Zimbabwe dollars outside the official banking system for black market deals.

"Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono will also be expected to explain his own bank's alleged involvement in shady foreign currency deals," said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

"We have agreed as a committee that we should give the governor the opportunity to talk to us next Monday," said Daniel MacKenzie-Ncube, the acting chairman of parliament's budget and finance committee.

The acting chairman, who is also an MP for the ruling Zanu-PF party, said his committee would also ask how some people had been able to receive trillions worth of Zimbabwe dollars from the reserve bank to purchase scarce foreign currency and would want to know whether there were tenders floated.

"The committee wants to know how individuals ended up accessing those trillions and how they were accounted," he said.

This is an eagerly-awaited encounter between the central bank chief and parliament. Last month, Gono challenged the parliamentary committee to invite him to reveal the names of top government and business figures allegedly involved in hoarding Zimbabwean cash to carry out illegal foreign currency and other black market deals.

But the then chairman of the committee, David Butau, said they were in no hurry to invite Gono. Days later police wanted to question Butau over his alleged involvement in illegal foreign currency deals. Butau has since fled to the UK. He says Gono sold him to the police. - Sapa-DPA