Former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono says he was forced to print money even when he knew it would cause hyperinflation because the government was desperate to forestall a coup by hungry soldiers.
Gono, who retired in 2013, told the Mashonaland West Business Conference in Chinhoyi last week that cash was used to pacify the troops.
“If we had not done what we did printing money and allowing inflation to skyrocket, then the men and women you see in those beautiful uniforms, they were ready to get out of their barracks,” he said.
“Operation Restore Legacy would have happened much earlier, but not one that we would have been commanding ourselves.
“It would have been a ‘restore legacy’ that would have been commanded from elsewhere.
“I had the privilege to come face-to-face with hungry men and women in uniform.
“I had the privilege to visit each and every barrack in this country to come face-to-face with hunger, hunger that was affecting men and women who have nothing else but their AKs; men and women who, if we did not do what we did, could have been tempted to get out and look for some food by whatever means.”
Gono said he never had the resources to do his job during his tumultuous tenure at the central bank.
“I was given a car, which did not have fuel and expected to get to a certain destination. You drive on empty. ours was not an ordinary situation, ours couldn’t be compared to any other country or any other situation,” he said.
“Any attempt to get money was met with blockages.
“Faced with a situation that we were in, we chose to allow inflation to go the way it went as long as we preserved the lives of our people.”
Gono said most of the time they could not tell Zimbabweans the truth that the country had no fuel or medicines fearing unrest.