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Zimbabwe Central Banker Gono Said to Complain to PM Tsvangirai Over Attacks

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, at the center of the impasse among the principals of the country's unity government, is said to have written to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai asking for protection against political attacks and to grant him immunity.

Minister of State Gorden Moyo, attached to the prime minister's office, said no such letter has been received there. But Agence France Presse reported that it had obtained a copy of a 15-page letter from Gono to Mr. Tsvangirai asking for protection against "political attacks."

AFP said Gono accused Finance Minister Tendai Biti - who has made no secret of his desire to see Gono removed from the central bank and this week accused him of operating outside the law - of blaming him for the economy's collapse due to excessive money-printing.

Gono last month acknowledged having looted private hard-currency accounts at the central bank to fund the operations of the previous government of President Robert Mugabe. One monetary expert has described him as the world's worst central bank chief.

Gono is quoted as saying he has suffered abuse and ridicule at the hands of "some ministers" who might have been involved in "nefarious, regrettable, activities."

The central banker is said to have asked MR. Tsvangirai to let bygones be bygones in line with the prime minister's general message that the country needs to move forward.

Political Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Gono's best course here would be to hand in his resignation

Elsewhere, Mr. Tsvangirai told an audience in the eastern city of Mutare on Wednesday that Zimbabwe's security agencies must be reformed and professionalized because they have become too heavily politicized and partisan.

In a meeting with business people, students, civic activists and church leaders, Mr. Tsvangirai said it is stipulated in the Global Political Agreement underpinning the unity government that state security institutions including the Central Intelligence Organization, police and army should serve the people of Zimbabwe, not one political party.

He did not name the political party that enjoys unfettered patronage from the state security apparatus, but the reference was clearly aimed at President Mugabe's ZANU-PF, which has long viewed - and directed - such institutions as party appendages.

Mr. Tsvangirai said issues troubling the unity government that have caused anxiety within his MDC formation should be resolved amicably before long. But he declined to divulge points on which agreement has been reached in talks among the governing principals.

He said that for democracy to take hold there must be an expansion of civil liberties and also reform of print and electronic media with entry by new players to the sector.

Mr. Tsvangirai said the marriage between ZANU-PF and the two formations of the MDC has not been smooth, and that greater engagement is needed to move forward.

Elsewhere, Kwekwe parliamentarian Blessing Chebundu of Mr. Tsvangirai's MDC formation was arrested on Wednesday on a charge of rape, legal sources said. Police arrested Chebundo early today on charges he raped a 14-year-old girl in January, the sources said.

Chebundo's lawyer, Tapera Segweni, told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Chebundo late Wednesday was in custody at Kwekwe Central Police Station and was expected to appear in court on Thursday for arraignment.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...