South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has “strongly reprimanded” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni over comments he made on social media about the dismissal of Zambia’s central bank governor, the presidency said on Monday. Zambian President Edgar Lungu fired central bank governor Denny Kalyalya on Saturday without explanation.
Mboweni, a former South African Reserve Bank governor, called on Lungu in now-deleted tweets to explain the dismissal. It is unusual for officials in one country to comment openly about appointments and dismissals in another country.
“In one of his tweets, Minister Mboweni is promising to mobilise if not given reasons why the Central (bank) Governor has been fired by President Lungu,” the presidency statement read. “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.”
Mboweni said in another tweet on Sunday, which has also since been deleted, that he stood by his initial comments, adding “central bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out!” Mboweni, who had also held positions in private companies and is a Ramaphosa ally, was appointed finance minister in 2018 and has taken steps to try to rein in the country’s budget deficit.