Kaunda Imposes Austerity, Brings in New Economic Team
LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) _ President Kenneth Kaunda reorganized the Cabinet and announced austerity measures Friday in an attempt to pull his once-rich nation out of the economic morass in which it has been mired for years.
As part of the program to cut spending, Zambia will close some of its diplomatic missions abroad, the president said.
Kaunda also ordered the release of 24 alleged drug smugglers who had been held for a year without charge. He said they would be prohibited from leaving the country until investigations are completed.
He told a news conference the government reorganization was designed to move economists into key positions.
Kaunda led the former British colony of Northern Rhodesia to independence on Oct. 24, 1964, and inherited a strong economy based on copper exports. Mismanagement and corruption combined with plunging copper prices to drain hard-currency reserves, however, and the country has been limping along on foreign aid and loans.
Social programs such as health and education have been cut back and rural development programs have nearly ceased.
The president changed his entire economic team, removing Finance Minister Luke Mwananshiku, central bank governor David Phiri and Dominic Mulaisho, his special economic adviser.
Replacing them are Basil Kabwe, former education and culture minister and a prominent trade union leader; Leonard Chivuno, who was chairman of the incomes and prices commission, and James Mapoma, former head of the state-owned Zimbabwe Industrial and Mining Corp.
Mwananshiku becomes foreign minister, and Phiri takes over Chivuno’s former job. Mulaisho, who was Kaunda’s special economic adviser for a decade, was not reassigned.
Foreign Minister Lameck Goma was given the higher education portfolio, and several other Cabinet ministers were moved around.
Kaunda did not say which embassies would be closed and was not specific about other elements in his austerity program.
Those detained for alleged drug smuggling included Sikota Wina and Vernon Mwaanga, former government ministers.
Kaunda also disclosed that he had received pleas for presidential clemency from six men sentenced to death in 1980 for plotting to overthrow him, including Edward Shamwana, former High Court commissioner. He said he turned the appeals over to a special review committee.