President Cyril Ramaphosa has “strongly reprimanded” finance minister Tito Mboweni for his tweets at the weekend criticising the removal of Zambian Central Bank governor Denny Kalyalya by President Edgar Lungu.
The presidency announced on Monday that the issue was being addressed to ensure that it did not occur again.
Kalyalya was fired on Saturday and replaced by Christopher Mvunga.
Reacting to the news, Mboweni criticised the move and threatened to “mobilise” if not given reasons why Kalyalya had been fired, saying “hell was on its way”.
“Presidents in Africa must stop this nonsense of waking up in the morning and fire a central bank governor! You cannot do that. This is not some fiefdoms of yours! Your personal property?! No!” he wrote.
In another tweet, Mboweni wrote: “That governor was a good fella. Why do we do these things as Africans? The president of Zambia must give us the reasons why he dismissed the governor — or else hell is on its way. I will mobilise!”
Following objections from some Zambian MPs, Mboweni tweeted: “Looks like I am in trouble about my statement on the dismissal of the Bank of Zambia governor! I stand by my statement. Central bank independence is key. Not negotiable. Let all central bankers speak out!”
The tweets have since been deleted.
Zambia’s information minister Dora Siliya said they were surprised with Mboweni’s criticism of a sovereign decision by Zambia. She described his tweets as “immature” and “improper criticism”.
“The minister should be attending to Covid-19 problems facing the South Africans, our focus here. We will pursue [the] matter diplomatically,” she said.
Ramaphosa distanced his government from Mboweni’s criticism, saying “the unfortunate remarks do not reflect the views of the South African government and its people.”