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Zimbabwe's Mugabe Vows Not to Remove Beleaguered Central Bank Chief

Embattled Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono will stay on the job, President Robert Mugabe declared Monday on state television amid heavy pressure from his governing partners for Gono's departure and reports the central banker is looking for the exit.

Mr. Mugabe said the central banker's critics in Britain and elsewhere “are not happy that he is where he is," adding some in the national unity government he shares with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai “don’t want him, but I say he will not go,” Reuters reported.

"He is not a thief, he has done no wrong. Prove the wrong he has done," Mugabe added, according to AFP, which said Mugabe was attending the funeral of Gono's brother.

The president’s comments followed a report Sunday by the prominent political commentator Denford Magora, former spokesman for 2008 presidential candidate Simba Makoni, saying Gono handed Mugabe a letter of resignation Saturday which was not accepted.

Other sources questioned this account, but told VOA that Gono was ready to step down if the right terms could be negotiated - among them presumably amnesty for his admitted misuse of private and nonprofit monies to fund Mr. Mugabe's previous government.

Magora told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Gono feels he has been abandoned by Mr. Mugabe's ZANU-PF party, of which he is a member.

Sources said Gono attempted to resign earlier this year but was not allowed to do so by Mr. Mugabe and ZANU-PF brass who saw him as essential to their interests.

Gono has become a major focus of divisions in the government. Mr. Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change formation has has been demanding the central banker be replaced along with Attorney General Johannes Tomana, also a key Mugabe supporter.

The MDC has asked the Southern African Development Community to and the African Union, guarantors of the power-sharing arrangement, to arbitrate in the matter.

The former opposition party argues that Western donors will remain unwilling to fund the country's reconstruction until Gono is replaced and the central bank is reformed.

Gono was recently said to have sent Mr. Tsvangirai a 15-page letter asking for protection against what he called personal attacks by Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

Sources told VOA that Gono has also complained to the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee, established to verify compliance with the September 2008 Global Political Agreement underpinning the government, charging that Biti has vilified him.

Political analyst George Mkwananzi told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that it would be in Zimbabwe's best interest for Gono to resign.

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