Minister of Finance Margaret Mwanakatwe has come under fire from critics such as trade consultant Trevor Simumba who has embarked on a campaign for her dismissal.
But EAZ deputy national secretary Rita Mkandawire has charged that Simumba’s attacks on Mwanakatwe are politically motivated because investors are very happy with her as finance minister.
On Friday, Mwanakatwe appeared on Bloomberg TV in Washington D.C., where she defended Zambia’s debt position and said she was not worried about Zambia’s declining international gross reserves because mitigating measures are being put in place to bolster the reserves, among other things.
After watching the interview, Simumba said he was convinced that Mwanakatwe was clueless about fixing Zambia’s economic problems.
“I said it she is clueless. The longer she remains as minister, the more damage to our economy. It was truly sad watching her. And this is Bloomberg! I received over 3 calls after this show from international banks,” Simumba said in a series of tweets.
“To understand the reaction of the investor community to her interview check the movement of the Euro bonds and exchange rate yesterday (Friday). They all moved in the negative direction not positive. What is worse is that she has been saying this of all places in D.C. ECL can find credible people willing to be Minister of Finance with a much more solid public finance experience right there in Zambia. The current Minister of Finance admits in private she does not know what to do. I say have the guts to resign rather than continue this charade that will lead Zambia into a deep hole.”
Simumba then suggested Mwanakatwe’s replacement, tweeting a link to African Risk Capacity Insurance Ltd CEO Dolika Banda’s profile.
“If President Lungu is serious about changing Zambia’s economic fortunes this is the Zambian woman who can do it. This is a credible sober Zambian technocrat that would quickly get the IMF and other partners on board and get Zambia back to growth,” said Simumba.
But in a statement yesterday, Mkandawire charged that Simumba’s remarks were politically motivated because Mwanakatwe was very competent.
“It is quite disheartening to see the level of attacks by economic commentators like Trevor Simumba who have continuously undermined the credibility of our Member of EAZ who also happens to be the Minister responsible for finance. I believe that we have the right to express our opinions but those opinions should not affect the image our country. Mr Trevor has indicated that he wants to stand as MP in 2021. He should therefore make it known that his opinions are politically biased because we want to avoid him giving opinions that can mislead those investors that pick information on Zambia from secondary sources. The Minister of Finance is both academically and professionally fit to be in that position. What we find worrying is that Mr Simumba seems to lobby the position for other people in public which is ethically incorrect. By mentioning names of other people, he is exposing their motives or at least painting a picture that those people are using him to lobby for jobs in government,” Mkandawire stated.
“I challenge Mr Simumba to reveal the three banks that called him after seeing the interview with Bloomberg. Information we have is that everyone in Washington (investors) are very happy with the minister that is why they continue holding Zambian assets. I advise Mr Simumba to come out clean on why he has picked on Hon Mwanakatwe as if she has been finance minister since 1964. A bit of statistics will reveal that she as finance minister has instilled fiscal discipline with the country reducing on the amount of contractor financed projected by 90%. As Minister of Finance, she cannot respond to things people say about her because she understands that her words can alter investor behaviour.”
She insisted that Simumba’s remarks were cheap politicking.
“I therefore advise Mr Simumba to write advisory notes to the President or the Minister herself if he has ideas he feels should be taken on board. If he thinks a minister is not performing, he as a citizen can write to the Republican President citing reasons. The Head of State as the appointing authority can make an independent decision without being pushed. As a consultant, Mr Simumba understands this process therefore I find it as cheap politicking his remarks. Women should be protected in this country,” stated Mkandawire.
“The idea of calling fellow civil servants at the Ministry of Finance as being cowards and calling the minister incompetent is not good for the image of the country especially that we hold Mr Simumba the professional in high esteem. Mr Simumba the politician however is being unfair to the economy’s image by labelling those entrusted to handle economic affairs incompetent. It should be noted that the Minister of Finance has Permanent Secretaries, main stream civil servants, the Bank of Zambia, ZIPAR and other institutions that provide sound economic advice. How is it possible that only Mr Simumba and Dolika Banda are qualified?”
Mkandawire attached a list of Mwanakatwe’s credentials to support her statement.