South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has “strongly reprimanded” his finance minister for tweets criticising the sacking of a top government official in Zambia.
“Presidents in Africa must stop this nonsense of waking up in the morning and fire a central bank governor,” Tito Mboweni tweeted.
Mr Rampahosa said the comments did not reflect the views of his government.
Zambia’s information minister said the tweets were “improper” and “immature.”
Dora Siliya told Mr Mboweni to instead focus on South Africa’s “coronavirus problems”:
South Africa has the highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Africa.
In a statement on Monday, President Ramaphosa called Mr Mboweni’s comments “unfortunate”, adding that the issue was being addressed “so that it does not occur again”.
Mr Mboweni is known for his frequent, colourful and occasionally controversial use of Twitter. Mr Ramaphosa did not say how he would prevent a reoccurrence.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, Mr Mboweni, a respected economist, challenged Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu to give reasons for the sacking of Denny Kalyalya as the central bank governor.
“This is not some fiefdoms of yours! Your personal property?! No!,” he tweeted, castigating President Lungu.
He threatened – in the since deleted tweets – that he would mobilise support if the governor was not reinstated.
“The 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”.
He later 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.”
But there won’t be any support coming from the South African government.
Mr Ramaphosa said the country enjoyed a strong historical relationship and his government was “committed to maintaining the deep and solid bonds of friendship” with Zambia.
Mr Mboweni retweeted the statement.