President of the Republic of Zambia Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu yesterday made a decision to relieve Dr Denny Kalyalya of his duties as Bank of Zambia Governor.
The Head of State, with immediate effect, appointed Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet Christopher Mvunga to replace Dr Kalyalya.
The changes which were confirmed last night by State House have, however, been received with mixed feelings. While others think the decision by the President has come at the right time considering the continued fall in the Kwacha against major convertible currencies, others think Mr Mvunga is the worst pick, questioning his capabilities on the fact that he is not an economist, like Dr Kalyalya who served in different positions at BoZ itself and as executive director at the World Bank Group.
Unlike Dr Kalyalya, Mr Mvunga is a Chartered Accountant (ACCA). He held various executive positions in big Banks such as Standard Chartered Bank and Standard Bank. His experience with big banks has obviously played a key role in the decision made by the Head of State. It is too early to doubt him for now.
Others, on the other hand, are questioning Mr Mvunga’s capabilities on the fact that he is an extremely sociable gentleman, who also loves his beer and because, on some occasions, he has been captured taking to the dance floor doing some moves similar to Michael Jackson’s stunts. But should that be the reason for opposing his appointment?
One thing we know, which many may not be privy to, is that Mr Mvunga is intelligent. He an extremely sharp guy and those who have worked with him can attest to this fact that. We wait to see how the markets will respond to this news. The man in charge of the Central Bank now is an accomplished Professional Accountant with extensive business knowledge gained across industries, ranging from local to Multi-national companies as listed below:
– Vast experience in business and banking with specialties in company valuations, receiverships and liquidations, raising capital for a number of local and multi national companies, investment advisory services and facilitating strategic planning sessions.
– Mr Mvunga is a fellow of the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA) and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA- UK). He qualified as an Associate Member of both ZICA and ACCA in 1994 and progressed to become a Fellow in 1999.
– Mr Mvunga has also in his previous life worked for Deloitte & Touche from 1988 to 1993 as a Senior Auditor. He then served at DevCorp Business Consultants from 1993 to 2002, a local Zambian Consultancy firm as Director – Corporate Finance.
– He joined Standard Bank in 2002 as Regional Retail Banking Head for Central Africa before moving to becoming Head Transaction Products in 2009.
– He left in 2011 to join Standard Chartered Bank, South Africa as Head and Director, Network Management Africa, a position he held until his nomination as Member of Parliament and appointment as Deputy Minister of Finance.
A quick look at other accomplished leaders without economic backgrounds but made a difference in their respective economic roles took us to Christine Lagarde, the former Managing Director of the IMF. Ms Lagarde, the former finance minister of France and current head of the European Central Bank (ECB), is an antitrust and labour lawyer who served in some ministerial positions in France, Finance minister, before she got the IMF role despite her not having the economic pedigree. She had no central bank experience. However, her performance in economic roles has been impressive. As Finance Minister of France during the global financial crisis, she impressed world leaders with her judgement and leadership and played a major role in the organization of the emergency EU bailout fund for banks. At the IMF, it was under her leadership that the IMF argued the rich should be paying higher taxes to reduce inequality, advocated for reforming the global tax system and warned about the macroeconomic effects of a few companies having outsized market power.
Let’s look at America. Jerome Powell, the head of America’s Federal Reserve, is a lawyer by training, just like Ms Lagarde. We leave you with these two examples.
For now, our view is that it’ll be unfair and too early to trash Mr Mvunga based on his social life before he can be allowed to ‘dance’ all the economic problems away. Give him chance to prove himself.