Lusaka Province PF secretary Kennedy Kamba says Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor-designate Christopher Mvunga should clean up all forms of mismanagement and “traits of economic sabotage” at the central bank.
And Kamba has predicted that Mvunga will help stabilise the kwacha, which had rapidly depreciated to nearly K20 per dollar.
In an interview, Kamba claimed that there had been too much politicking going on at the central bank under the administration of immediate past governor Dr Denny Kalyalya, which needed to be stamped out with Mvunga’s appointment.
He also appealed to the BoZ and the Ministry of Finance to work together and create stability for the kwacha by allowing commercial banks to buy the dollar at a cheaper rate from the mines.
“From the onset, let me state that we are deeply concerned and also dismayed by the manner our local currency, the kwacha, is falling in terms of the exchange rate against international convertible currencies, especially the dollar. We cannot, therefore, shy away from highlighting issues that we know very well have contributed drastically to the falling of the kwacha. We know the kind of politics being played within and outside the system to destabilise the economy so that it may look like President Lungu and the PF have failed when in fact not. We all know that the COVID-19 effects have hit hard our economy just like any other economy in the world and that’s why we expect stakeholders to support the government’s stimulus package and interventions to stabilise it,” Kamba said.
“The first thing we want to see, as an urgent intervention measure, is a shift in policy to allow the transnational mining companies to sell their dollars to the banks so that they can access the kwacha easily from commercial banks and not solely from the Bank of Zambia. We expect the Bank of Zambia and the Ministry of Finance to work hand-in-hand to create stability in the circulation of the dollar by allowing commercial banks to buy at a cheaper rate from the mines at the point of remitting the statutory obligations, such as taxes.”
He charged that some BoZ directors and senior managers had been playing politics with a view to destabilise the economy.
“The other major issue is the political games being played by some directors at the Bank of Zambia. We are aware that some directors and senior managers at the Bank of Zambia have resorted to playing politics at the institution instead of serving the country faithfully by stabilising the economy. This is the more reason why we supported the firing of the former governor Dr Denny Kalyalya because the central bank has been mismanaged for a long time and now we are seeing the same traits in some senior directors who seem to be mismanaging the affairs of the central bank. There is too much politicking going on at BoZ and we can only ask the newly-appointed governor, Honourable Christopher Mvunga, to decisively deal with management issues as soon as possible,” Kamba charged.
He also claimed that the delay in making crucial monetary policy decisions at the central bank had frustrated some employees.
“We know that morale is down at the central bank as many employees are frustrated! The technocrats at the central bank are very frustrated due to the delay in confirming members of staff to various positions. Those that need to be moved to fixed-term or permanent conditions of service, let them be moved. Directors and deputy directors at the Bank of Zambia are on permanent conditions of service, while junior officers are on contract. Most of the junior officers have worked at the Bank of Zambia for over five years, but without any reviews of conditions and they don’t even get housing allowances. All these things have the potential to affect the operations of the Bank of Zambia, overall. There is also too much delay in decision-making. Misplaced priorities are the order of the day. Instead of concentrating on the feasible interventions of stabilising the local currency, the technocrats are busy doing research programmes that are parallel to the issues at hand,” Kamba argued.
And he predicted that Mvunga would help stabilise the kwacha’s performance against major currency convertibles.
“We want the new governor to fix things, to review how business is done at the bank because, in our view, these are traits of economic sabotage. Such kind of gross economic mismanagement that started in the era of Dr Kalyalya must be dealt with urgently. We cannot tolerate mismanagement of the economy by the central bank at such critical times. We, however, believe that Honourable Mvunga, working together with President Lungu’s economic team and all technocrats, will stabilise the kwacha and the economy without any doubt,” said Kamba.