Zambia: Sata appoints cabinet, sacks Central Bank Governor
Zambia’s newly-elected leader, Michael Sata has appointed his maiden cabinet, mainly stalwarts from his Patriotic Front (PF) party and old comrades from the country’s liberation-era administration.
Sata announced new ministries, restructured and merged some to honour his election promise of a ‘slim’ cabinet to cut down on “unnecessary” recurrent government expenditure.
This has seen a reduction of ministries from 22 to 19.
Guy Scott, Sata’s closest lieutenant and a PF faithful, was appointed Zambia’s first white vice-president. Scott was agriculture minister in the 1990s.
Sata appointed veteran economist Alexander Chikwanda as Zambia’s finance minister.
Chikwanda was among a crop of young leaders appointed by former president Dr Kenneth Kaunda to key ministries in the 1970s, and often seriously described as “the Young Turks” of Zambia’s founding United National Independence Party leadership.
The new president and his deputy are expected to have a hands-on approach in the management of the economy, with Chikwanda being seen as a vital cog in ensuring Sata’s promise of guaranteeing Zambians get a fair share of their wealth, without the state having to unravel key industries such as mining.
The possibility of a radical policy shift under Sata is almost nil.
Most workers, particularly on the Copperbelt, see Sata’s election as “key to ending slave wages”.
This will increase pressure on his government and employers to raise salaries.
As if to prove that he is pro-workers, Sata also appointed two trade unionists to head the labour ministry.
Conspicuously missing from Sata’s new cabinet list are Sylvia Masebo, George Mpombo, Mike Mulongoti and Mbita Chitala, former members of ex president Rupiah Banda’s Movement for Mulitparty Democracy (MMD) who ditched the party and joined the PF.
They were widely regarded as having helped drive the last nail into the MMD’s coffin.
Caleb Fundanga was fired as Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor six months before the expiry of his third and final contract.
During his campaign Sata had bemoaned about high interest rates in the country and had prioritised “sorting out BoZ (the Bank of Zambia)” as one of his presidential priorities.
Veteran banker Bwalya Ng’andu is seen as the front runner to succeed Fundanga.
Most analysts do not expect substantial changes at the central bank.
The operations of BoZ are heavily trailed by the International Monetary Fund and it is expected to continue keeping a tight monetary policy with focus on containing inflationary pressures.
This is likely to see interest rates remain high and probably much to Sata’s chagrin.