UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema says the changes which President Edgar Lungu has made at Bank of Zambia are like replacing an experienced heart surgeon with a mechanic in the middle of a surgery.

But PF media director Sunday Chanda says Hichilema’s criticism lacks logic because according to the law, new Bank of Zambia Governor Christopher Mvunga is fully qualified for the position.

In a Facebook post, Sunday, Hichilema said; “What has happened at BOZ is like replacing an experienced heart surgeon with a mechanic, in the middle of heart surgery.”

And in a detailed press statement on President Lungu’s decision to fire Dr Denny Kalyalya, Hichilema warned that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would stop engaging with Zambia because of poor fiscal policies and Mvunga’s credibility.

“The PF is at it again with its typical hallmark of failure in upholding the tenets of sound economic management and good governance. The dismissal of the Governor of the Bank of Zambia, Dr. Denny Kalyalya is another sad development in our country’s history, and it couldn’t have come at such a critical time, when the nation is facing enormous economic challenges, and uncertainties. We can tell you without doubt, that the IMF will stop engaging with Zambia, not only because of poor fiscal policies but also because of the credibility of the new Bank of Zambia Governor. BOZ under Dr. Kalyalya has behaved professionally and has been managed with a firm and transparent standpoint. With the IMF leaving us to sort out our own mess, the next likely group will be our creditors who will start demanding their pound of flesh. Then the kwacha will follow, in free fall,” Hichilema stated.

“There are no prizes for guessing why Kalyalya was fired. Put simply, the man was professional, ethical and above board. Various public statements he made on the condition of the economy, underscores the fact that he was forthright, prudent and foresighted. In now what has become the PF’s modus operandus, anyone who behaves ethically and professionally is kicked out.”

Hichilema stated that government had demonstrated that it was bent on undermining the central bank.

“Government has just shown that it is hell bent on undermining the BOZ, which has remained steadfast in ensuring the economy continues to function within acceptable benchmarks. The efforts made by Bank of Zambia on monetary policy adjustments is well documented. While Kalyalya was busy forestalling a free fall of the Kwacha against major currencies, Bwalya Ng’andu, on the fiscal side, was busy fighting him by introducing strange measures and contracting new debt. A Central Bank, in any country, is a very important institution that requires professionalism and competence to reign. It is also important that the CEO of the Central Bank is protected by the law from political interference, like this one action that has just been executed by Mr Edgar Lungu,” he stated.

He also warned Zambians to brace themselves for hard economic times.

“At this point, one can only warn the Zambian public to brace for hard times ahead. The kwacha will devalue further, subsequently sending prices skyrocketing due to the rising cost of doing business. Further, jobs will be lost because the economy will further contract, probably end at a worse position than the projected minus 5.5% growth. However with all this gloom in our midst, we would like to assure Zambians that come 2021, the economy will be firmly back on track. Do your bit, we shall do ours,” stated Hichilema.

But in a separate statement, Chanda said that instead of getting excited about the changes made at BoZ, Hichilema should have been worried about why Dr Kalyalya was slow at disbursing the K10 billion stimulus package.

“We wish to draw Mr. Hichilema’s attention to Article 214 of The Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No 2 of 2016 provides that; ‘214. (1) There shall be a Governor of the Bank of Zambia who shall be appointed by the President, subject to ratification by the National Assembly, and who shall be— (a) a citizen; (b) a person who has specialised training and experience in economics, finance, accounting, banking, LAW or other field relevant to banking, as prescribed;… ‘While subject to ratification by Parliament, the newly appointed BOZ Governor Mr. Chris Mvunga is an accomplished Professional Accountant with extensive business knowledge gained across industries, ranging from local to Multi-national companies,” Chanda stated.

“We have also observed that its been very easy for UPND leader to attack Minister of Finance Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu, a man who has taken very aggressive fiscal measures while paying a blind eye to his cousin the former Bank of Zambia Governor over the K10 billion stimulus fund which had remained undusbursable until now. Only K1 billion of the stimulus package was disbursed in the midst of negative economic growth. How can the economy be rescued when there is no liquidity in the economy? Which country can allow that? But alas Mr. Hichilema found it convenient to remain quiet possibly because the person involved was his relative. We expect that anyone who is serious about Zambia like His Excellency President Edgar Lungu is must raise concerns about the slow disbursement of the stimulus package and the over stringent measures put up which are defeating the very reason why the Stimulus package was put up in the first place.”

Chanda charged that there was sabotage by the opposition UPND to knock down the country’s economy.

“There was clearly suspected sabotage to knock out out the economy completely and this is what the UPND was banking on,” stated Chanda.