Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya insists the central bank is not fuelling the foreign currency parallel market despite suspending four directors allegedly linked to the illicit deals.
Mangudya last week announced the suspension of Norman Mataruka (banks supervision), Azvinandava Saburi (financial markets), Mirirai Chiremba (financial intelligence) and Gresham Muradzikwa (security).
The quartet was named in an alleged exposé by Zanu PF apologist William Mutumanje, aka Acie Lumumba, who had been hired by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to lead a communications taskforce.
Mangudya said the suspensions were meant to pave way for an independent investigation into the allegations, but in an exclusive interview he told standardbusiness that there was nothing new about Lumumba’s claims.
He said last year the directors were found to be clean after similar allegations were raised against them by Parliament’s budget, finance and economic development committee.
“This issue was raised in many fora (before) and last time we gave them information,” Mangudya said.
“So, the same issues are being raised and we thought the best way was not to continue giving reports, but to have the audit and oversight committee investigate the team.”
The central bank chief said they had always been open about their activities and the allegations of illegal foreign currency deals had not been backed with facts.
“We were always opening our books for them and that is why I am saying this time around we see this issue was raised again,” Mangudya said.
“Last time, we did do some investigations and they showed us that there was nothing like that and we discussed it with the former Finance minister (Patrick Chinamasa) many times and sometimes gave evidence.”
He said the previous budget, finance and economic development committee had failed to provide evidence that RBZ officials were involved in illegal foreign currency deals.
In June last year, the committee threatened to summon the directors after Mangudya insisted they were not involved in the alleged deals during a briefing.
The committee’s chairperson at the time, David Chapfika (Zanu PF), said they did not need Mangudya’s permission to summon the directors.
Mangudya said the committee did not provide any evidence even after they were asked by Chinamasa to do so.
“The former minister had asked the people who had said those things to provide evidence so that we would be able to use it,” he said.
“They didn’t even submit any information which the minister was going to use to (investigate the) matter.”
Lumumba, who made the allegations in a live Facebook recording last Sunday, was fired the following day amid reports President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government was divided by the appointment of the taskforce.
However, the RBZ cited the exposé to suspend the directors to pave way for the investigations.
Mangudya said he was certain that the RBZ was not involved in the parallel market in foreign currency.
“I still stand by that comment that the Reserve Bank is not involved in the parallel market,” he said.
“This is why we are instituting an independent board of inquiry to put the matter to rest.
“If it was judged by Mangudya, I know people would say it is biased and that is why we needed to put a board of inquiry.
“Our audit committee, which is independent, is looking at that matter, but we don’t have any foreign currency, which is missing at the bank.
“What we are doing is that the independent audit committee is looking into those allegations to see whether there is any substance in the issue that was raised by Lumumba.”
Mangudya said they “are not aware of those abuses. If we knew, we were not going to be investigating. So maybe there are other abuses that we have not detected”.
Mnangagwa recently said those perpetuating the foreign currency parallel market had become a security threat.
— The Standard