LUSAKA – Zambian President Edgar Lungu appointed former accountant Felix Mutati as his finance minister on Wednesday as he began naming members of the cabinet following his delayed inauguration this week.
Lungu’s inauguration was postponed as the opposition contested the result of the Aug. 11 election, worrying investors at a time when the major copper-producing nation needs to resume budget support talks with the International Monetary Fund.
The 59-year-old, who was sworn in for a new five-year term on Tuesday, has said he would focus on unlocking agricultural potential in his tropical nation to reduce its dependence on copper mining.
Mutati served as the Energy and Water Development Minister from 2002 to 2004 and subsequently as the Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister from 2004 to 2011, during which time he coordinated international efforts to harmonise regional trade and investment.
Lungu also appointed Davis Chama, Patriotic Front secretary general, as defence minister.
The new cabinet must tackle slowing growth due to depressed copper prices that have caused a 9 percent fall in the kwacha currency against the dollar since April, and consumer inflation that has nearly tripled to 20 percent year-on-year.
The swearing in ceremony of the cabinet ministers and provincial ministers will take place on Thursday, state house spokesman Amos Chanda said in a statement.