New Zambian leader reappoints central bank chief axed by predecessor

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President Hakainde Hichilema gives a press briefing at his residence in Lusaka, August 16, 2021, PATRICK MEINHARDT/Getty Images

Zambian newly-elected leader on Monday reappointed a respected central bank governor who was controversially sacked last year by his predecessor three years before his term was up, the presidency announced.

President Hakainde Hichilema handed Denny Kalyalya his old job, a year after the former World Bank executive director was removed with no reason given.

Kalyalya’s dismissal by Edgar Lungu in August 2020, enraged the then South African finance minister Tito Mboweni who publicly demanded an explanation for the sacking, resulting in a diplomatic incident.

“Presidents in Africa must stop this nonsense of waking up in the morning and fire a Central Bank Governor! You cannot do that. This is not some fiefdoms of yours!” tweeted Mboweni then.

He went on to tweet “The President of Zambia must give us the reasons why he dismissed the Governor or else hell is on its way. I will mobilize!”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa later said he had “strongly reprimanded” his finance minister, and that the “unfortunate remarks” did not reflect the government position.

Kalyalya’s removal also caused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to call for the bank’s “independence and credibility” to be maintained.

The announcement of his reappointment comes as Zambia this week resumes negotiating a bailout from the IMF.

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