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Kalyalya returns as bank of Zambia governor after shock exit

Kalyalya’s appointment is effective immediately and subject to lawmakers’ approval.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema named Denny Kalyalya as central bank governor, returning the highly-regarded economist to the job 13 months after his shock dismissal hit the nation’s currency and dollar bonds.

Kalyalya’s appointment is effective immediately and subject to lawmakers’ approval, the presidency said in an emailed statement Monday. His placement follows Hichilema’s selection of other seasoned officials to fill key economic posts, including that of Situmbeko Musokotwane as finance minister and Felix Nkulukusa as treasury secretary.

A former World Bank Group director, Kalyalya resumes his role with inflation near the highest level in two decades, and as the government tries to secure an International Monetary Fund deal that will anchor talks to restructure about $12.9 billion in external debt. Zambia became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter in November.

“It is clear the president is focused on bringing on board individuals with experience and Denny Kalyalya is just one such person investors, who include local market players, have been yearning for,” said Lusaka-based economist Chibamba Kanyama. “Kalyalya is not only competent, he is a person of integrity and therefore worthy of trust by the market.”

Zambia’s $1 billion bonds due 2024 were little changed at 77 cents on the dollar by 8:41 a.m. in London on Tuesday.

Kalyalya was fired in August last year by then-President Edgar Lungu, a move that shocked the financial markets. He was replaced by Christopher Mvunga, who quit earlier this month. Hichilema trounced Lungu in elections in August, giving him the power to name the new governor.    

© 2021 Bloomberg

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