South Africa‘s Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, took to Twitter on Sunday to blast Zambia’s president’s decision to remove that country’s central bank head without explanation on Saturday.
Mboweni, an ally of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, is also a former governor of his country’s central bank.
In one of his tweets, Mboweni said: “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! Your personal property?! No!!”.
Denny Kalyalya, the now-former head of Zambia’s reserve bank, is to be replaced by Christopher Mvunga, the deputy secretary to the Cabinet.
It is very uncommon for African politicians to publicly comment on domestic matters in other jurisdictions that have little to no international repercussion. But Mboweni also demanded reasons of Zambia President Edward Lungu for the latter’s decision to sack the governor.
“Why do we do these things as Africans. The President of Zambia must give us the reasons why he dismissed The Governor or else hell is on his way. I will mobilize!,” Mboweni threatened.
The Zambian government responded a few hours later expressing surprise at “Tito Mboweni’s immature and improper criticism of a sovereign decision by Zambia.”
Zambia’s Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Dora Siliya, tweeted in response to Mboweni: “The Minister should be attending to COVID problems facing the South Africans, our focus here. We will pursue matter diplomatically.”
Mboweni has since deleted his critical tweets but has defended his statements adding that “Central Bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out!”
On Sunday evening, the government of South Africa tried to calm matters indicating that Mboweni has been “strongly reprimanded”.
“President Ramaphosa wishes to assure the government and people of the Republic of Zambia that the unfortunate remarks do not reflect the views of the South African Government and its people,” a South African statement added.