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Zambian president fires finance minister

Zambia’s president has fired Finance Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe and appointed central bank deputy governor Bwalya Ng’andu to replace her, the president’s office said. 

The statement, issued on Sunday night, gave no reasons for President Edgar Lungu’s decision and there were no immediate comments from Mwanakatwe, who only took up the post last year, or from Ng’andu.

Ng’andu will take over the management of an economy the International Monetary Fund has repeatedly warned is struggling with high debts and shrinking foreign exchange reserves.

External debt rose to $10.05 billion at the end of 2018, compared with $8.74 billion a year earlier. Zambia is trying to shrink a fiscal deficit that amounted to 7.5% of gross domestic product last year.

The government also faces tensions with miners who say taxes it has imposed will stymie investment and hit output in Africa’s second-largest copper producer.

Ng’andu has previously served as managing director of the Development Bank of Zambia, managing director of the National Savings and Credit Bank and director-general of the Zambia Investment Centre.

He will be sworn in on Monday, President Edgar Lungu’s spokesman Isaac Chipampe said. 

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