Ramaphosa sends strong reprimand to finance minister after controversial Zambia tweets

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni
Sean Gallup, Gallo Images, Getty Images

  • President Ramaphosa has given a strong reprimand to rebel minister Tito Mboweni.
  • This after Mboweni made controversial statements on the axing of Zambia's central bank governor.
  • In his tweets, Mboweni said he would mobilise if reasons were not given for Denny Kalyalya's dismissal.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has given a strong reprimand to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni – one of his chief lieutenants – after his controversial tweets regarding the removal of Zambia's central bank governor by President Edgar Lungu.

In a statement on Monday morning, Ramaphosa sought to reassure Zambia's government that Mboweni's remarks did not reflect the views of South Africa's government.

"In one of his tweets, Minister Mboweni is promising to mobilise if not given reasons why the Central Governor has been fired by President Lungu. 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. The issue is being addressed to ensure that such an incident does not occur again," the Presidency's statement read.

On Sunday, in a series of tweets Mboweni, who is known to be vocal and controversial on social media, lambasted the Zambian government after the axing of Denny Kalyalya.

In one of his social media posts, 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!"

READ | ANC NEC lambastes Mboweni over Twitter rant contradictions

In a shock move on Saturday, Lungu announced the dismissal of central bank governor Kalyalya and replaced him with former deputy finance minister Christopher Mphanza Mvunga.

The move came just days after the central bank cut its benchmark lending rate by 125 basis points to 8.0% to try to safeguard financial sector stability and protect livelihoods in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Moneyweb reported.

In another social media post, Mboweni said Kalyalya was a good "fella", saying: 

"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 its way. I will mobilise."

He later said he was "in trouble about my statement on the dismissal of the Bank of Zambia Governor! I stand by my statement. Central Bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out!"

The Presidency said South Africa and Zambia enjoyed strong historical relations dating back to the days of the struggle against apartheid.

ALSO READ | Zambia denies accusations President Edgar Lungu bankrolled Rwandan rebels

"South Africa remains committed to maintaining the deep and solid bonds of friendship between the peoples of South Africa and Zambia," the statement read.

This is not the first time Mboweni has been in trouble for making controversial statements on social media.

In May, he was condemned by the ANC's national executive committee for contradicting the government's position on the Covid-19 lockdown. Mboweni contradicted Cabinet's position on the cigarette ban, as well as the aid package for B-BBEE.

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