Zambia To Stop Contracting External Debt In 2021- Finance Minister

A file photo of the Zambian flag.
A file photo of the Zambian flag.

 

Zambia’s finance minister on Friday said the country would not take on new external commercial loans in 2021 and limit existing projects in a bid to reduce spiralling debt.

The mineral-rich southern African country’s public debt increased by 4.3 percent in the first six months of 2020, reaching $11.97 billion (10.3 billion euros) in June.

That debt already represented around 80 percent of GDP by the end of 2019, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“Government remains committed to restoring public debt sustainability and has embarked on a number of initiatives to achieve this objective,” Finance Minister Bwalya Ng’andu announced in a 2021 budget presentation.

“These include cancellation, postponement and re-scoping of projects. Further contraction of new commercial external debt has been stopped,” he added.

Ng’andu said $1.1 billion (947 million euros) in pending loans had been cancelled and another $280 million (241 million euros) saved through project changes.

He reiterated that the government plans to apply for a G20 initiative to suspend debt servicing and said similar relief was being sought from external commercial creditors.

Earlier this week, government asked for a six-month debt repayment holiday on three Eurobonds due to the economic impact of coronavirus restrictions.

As Africa’s second largest copper producer, Zambia has also been hit by a global decline in metal prices.

Its mining revenue dropped nearly a third between February and April 2020 due to the pandemic.

Global giant Glencore — one of Zambia’s largest miners — announced earlier this year that it would cut capital expenditure by as much as a quarter during 2020 due to disruption to supply chains caused by coronavirus and falling commodity prices.

The government has since proposed to up its 10 percent shareholding in Glencore subsidiary Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) to save jobs.

Ng’andu said the government had “offered to acquire additional shares” in MCM and “terms of purchase” were being negotiated with Glencore.

Zambia has previously defaulted on loans acquired for several construction projects, including Chinese-funded ones, resulting in some being suspended or abandoned.

AFP

Zambia Education Minister Sacked After Nude Videos Go Viral

The Zambian presidency did not give reasons for education minister, David Mabumba’s removal but it came after explicit video clips of the minister were leaked on social media.

 

 

Zambian leader Edgar Lungu on Wednesday fired his education minister, David Mabumba, the presidency said, after nude video clips of him went viral on social media.

A statement from the presidency did not give reasons for his removal but it came after explicit video clips of the minister were leaked on Twitter, Facebook and shared via Whatsapp.

It only said Lungu “had terminated the appointment of Minister of General Education… with immediate effect”.

David Mabumba, 49, was appointed to the cabinet in 2016.

 

 

 

 

-AFP

Zambia Asks China For Debt Relief

A photo combination of Zambia's President Edgar Lungu and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, created on July 21, 2020.
A photo combination of Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu and Chinese President, Xi Jinping, created on July 21, 2020.

 

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu has requested debt relief and cancellation from China due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, his office said.

Lungu made the appeal in a telephone call with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Monday.

“President Lungu called for debt relief and cancellation in light of reduced revenue due to the negative impact of the pandemic, as well as competing needs for the country, to secure adequate resources to fight the pandemic and to stimulate the economy,” the presidency said in a statement released late Monday.

Africa’s second largest copper producer is one of China’s prominent debtors, owing billions of dollars.

“Chinese project finance loans to Zambia amount to between US$6 billion and US$9 billion, based on unofficial sources,” said Robert Besseling, director of risk assessment firm EXX Africa.

“However not all the funds have been disbursed, while the Zambian government itself has been unable to account for its obligations to China. An official audit has been withheld for several years,” he said.

Zambia’s external debt is projected to soar above 60 percent of GDP this year.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week predicted that Zambia’s economy will contract by five percent in 2020, compared to growth of 1.5 percent posted last year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and severe drought.

To date the country has recorded 2,980 coronavirus cases, including 120 deaths.

EXX Africa expects Zambia’s debt rating to “deteriorate significantly in 2020” and says it will remain “one of Africa’s worst country risk performers in the year ahead”.

“Zambia’s sovereign has been unable to maintain payments on various loan agreements and contractor commitments over the course of 2019,” said Besseling.

Mining revenue dropped nearly a third between February and April this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the country’s mining chamber.

Nearly half of the country’s tax revenues goes towards debt servicing.

 

AFP

Zambian Restart Delayed As 28 Test Positive For COVID-19 In One Club

Nkana have won a record 12 Zambia Super League titles. (AFP Photo)

 

 

The restart of the Zambian season, planned for Saturday, was delayed 24 hours after 28 players and staff from league leaders Forest Rangers tested positive for coronavirus.

Rangers had been scheduled to play Zanaco in central city Ndola in the first Super League match since the season was halted in early March by the COVID-19 disease.

All 18 league clubs had to undergo coronavirus tests this week and of the 58 players and staff at Rangers, only 30 were negative, according to the national football association.

“The association is greatly concerned that some clubs have relaxed their adherence to the COVID-19 guidelines,” general secretary Adrian Kashala told AFP.

“We should never forget that the league resumption can always be halted if clubs do not adhere to the prescribed guidelines.

“Clubs will face stiff penalties for breaching COVID-19 guidelines, including losing points or matches being cancelled.”

The 2019/2020 season will now restart Sunday in Ndola with a double-header featuring Zesco United against Kansanshi Dynamos followed by Buildcon versus Power Dynamos.

Rangers top the table on 46 points from 24 matches as they seek a first title with Napsa Stars (45), Green Eagles (44), Nkana (43) and defending champions Zesco (42) in hot pursuit.

Nkana have won a record 12 Super League titles in Zambia followed by Mufulira Wanderers (nine) and Zesco (eight).

Matches will be staged behind closed doors in the southern Africa nation, where there have been 2,810 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 109 deaths.

Zambia are the second country in Africa after Tanzania, where spectators are permitted, to restart their season.

Burundi were the only African nation to continue playing through the pandemic and allowed spectators during a season that finished last weekend.

Several major leagues, including those in Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia, are expected to resume soon.

 

 

 

-AFP

Zambia Health Minister Denies Corruption Charges

A file photo of the Zambian flag.
A file photo of the Zambian flag.

 

Zambian Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya on Thursday pleaded not guilty to corruption charges on the first day of a trial for allegedly using ill-gotten gains to acquire property and assets.

Chilufya, 47, was arrested last month and charged with four counts of possession of property “suspected of being proceeds of crime”.

“I understand the charges and I plead not guilty,” Chilufya told judge Lameck Mwale at the magistrate court in Zambia’s capital Lusaka.

Graft investigators homed in on the minister in May after the minister allegedly amassed a sudden fortune.

According to court documents, Chilufya bought around $215,000-worth of shares in a lakeside lodge in 2017. He is also accused of using $165,000 to purchase a guest house and $52,000 for a boat.

The trial is set to resume on August 4.

Chilufya, who remains in office, could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

 

AFP

Zambia Denies Accusations Its President Sponsored Rwandan Rebels

Zambia’s President, Edgar Lungu, (pictured) was accused of supporting “rebel attacks to remove Rwandan President Paul Kagame from power.

 

Zambia’s government on Tuesday rejected claims President Edgar Lungu had bankrolled a Rwandan rebel leader accused of orchestrating deadly attacks in his country’s border regions.

The claims were made by the rebel chief, Callixte Nsabimana, who is on trial for terrorism and other charges. He has already admitted to working with other foreign governments against Rwanda.

During his latest hearing on Monday, Nsabimana told a Rwandan High court that Lungu had promised his National Liberation Front (FLN) $1 million to help oust the administration in Kigali.

He said Lungu had made a down payment of $150,000 in support of “rebel attacks to remove President Paul Kagame from power”.

Zambia is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola. It is 1,258 kilometres away from Rwanda. Image: www.distancefromto.net

In a statement Tuesday the Zambian presidency said it “would like to categorically refute these claims”.

It stated “unequivocally that these allegations are false and must be treated with the contempt they deserve”.

“The governments and peoples of Zambia and Rwanda continue to enjoy strong and fraternal relations founded on mutual respect,” said the statement from presidential spokesman Isaac Chipambe.

Nsabimana, also known as “Sankara” has in previous hearings named Burundi and Uganda as supporters of the rebel activities against Rwanda.

The rebel commander is charged with terrorism, treason, incitement violence, murder and kidnap among other charges.

AFP

Zambia Opens Airports As Tourism Sector ‘Resumes Operations’

Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing on July 6, 2017 at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Thursday justified invoking a state of emergency by alleging that opposition parties were behind a string of arson attacks intended “to create terror and panic”. DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

 

Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu on Thursday announced the immediate reopening of all three of the landlocked country’s international airports to help revitalise the tourism sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Lungu said decreased economic activity since the start of April caused a loss in revenues of 20.8 billion kwachas ($1.1 billion).

He announced the reopening of the three international airports with “immediate” effect to help boost earnings, adding: “In the tourism sector… we have also got to get back to work.”

Zambia’s tourism industry — with the stunning Victoria Falls as its flagship attraction — contributed $1.8 billion to the national economy in 2018, according to data by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Lungu directed the ministers of communication, finance, home affairs and tourism to work together to devise stringent health guidelines for arriving tourists.

READ ALSO: UN Urges ‘Moratorium’ On Facial Recognition Tech Use In Protests

Over the last 24 hours, Zambia recorded eight new coronavirus cases, for a total of 1,497 with 18 deaths. The number of recoveries now stands at 1,223.

The president urged Zambia’s more than 17 million citizens to observe high standards of hygiene as the winter season peaks in the southern hemisphere, warning that the numbers of coronavirus cases in Zambia could soar.

However, bars and nightclubs remain closed.

AFP

Hunger Stalks Southern Africa As Climate Crisis Deepens

Small farmer and single mother Imelda Hicoombolwa removes weeds from her field in Kaumba on January 21, 2020.  Guillem Sartorio / AFP

 

The spectre of want is haunting Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa as they grapple with a long and devastating drought.

AFP reporters who travelled across the three countries saw widespread suffering in rural areas where successive harvests have been hit by lack of rain or shortened rainfall seasons.

Across the 16-nation southern African region, 45 million people are “gravely food insecure,” the World Food Programme (WFP) said on January 16. In some regions, the drought is three years old — in others, five.

In the Zambian village of Simumbwe, hundreds waited for food to be distributed by the NGO World Vision and the UN.

“The children ask me: ‘What are we going to eat?'” said Loveness Haneumba, a mother of five.

“I answer: ‘Just wait. Let me look around’.”

A teacher, Teddy Siafweba, said about 15 children in his class were absent that day because of hunger. In the classroom next door, about 30 were missing — nearly half of the rollcall of 70.

In South Africa’s Northern Cape province, at the gateway of the Kalahari desert, the wild animals are used to extreme temperatures but even they are succumbing to the conditions.

According to Wildlife Ranching South Africa, two-thirds of wild animals in the province have died in the last three years.

In two years, half of the 4,500 buffaloes, hippopotamuses and kudus at the Thuru Lodge game farm near Groblershoop have disappeared.

The average rainfall here is 250 millimetres (one inch) a year.

“But 250 millimetres, that’s what we have had in five years,” said its manager, Burger Schoeman.

At the top of a hill that overlooked the 22,000-hectare (54,000-acre) private reserve, two huge holes served as mass graves.

The drought represents a financial black hole for the lodge, which spends 200,000 rand (12,000 euros) per month to feed the animals while cancelling the reservations of tourists on the lookout for “trophies.”

“We need to offer a fair hunt. Hunters can’t shoot weak animals,” said Schoeman.

Johan Steenkamp, a 52-year-old farmer with a spread of 6,000 hectares, said he had lost up to 70 percent of his stock.

Sheep still give birth, but they abandon their newborn lambs.

“They have no milk,” Steenkamp said. “They leave them there.”

Hand-in-hand with the desperation are signs of hope as some farmers adapt to climate shock.

Three years ago, Imelda Hicoombolwa, a single Zambian mother and small farmer, gambled on agricultural diversification, opting for nutritious vegetables and using techniques adapted to climate change.

“Food is not a problem. I have it,” she beamed.

Before 2017, Hicoombolwa cultivated almost only maize. Today, she harvests cowpeas, which need very little water, as well as peanuts, pumpkins and sunflowers.

“I can make 18,000 kwacha (1,100 euros, $1,222) a year. Before, I was making 8,000 kwacha a year,” she said. “Before, the children were missing school because I could not always pay the tuition fees. Not any more.”

AFP

Zambian President Reduces His Wages As Energy Prices Rise

Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing on July 6, 2017 at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

 

Zambian President Edgar Lungu cut his salary and those of senior cabinet ministers Friday, as higher electricity and fuel prices take effect, his office said.

The price of petrol gained 10 percent to 17.62 kwacha ($1.27) per litre on Thursday, while that for diesel fuel rose by 9.6 percent to 15.59 kwacha.

The cost of electricity is to soar by 115 per cent starting January 1.

The stiff hikes for electricity and fuel have sparked an uproar on social media where many Zambians vented their anger.

The cut in the president’s salary and those of senior ministers is in the range of 15 to 20 per cent.

“The money realised will go into cushioning the impact on the vulnerable in society. The money realised from this decision will go towards ameliorating the impact that the increase would have brought on the masses,” Lungu’s press aide Isaac Chipampe said in a statement.

Lungu said he was aware of the suffering that the Zambians were going through as a result of the tariff hikes but expressed confidence that the economy would rebound in 2020 owing to measures that the government has put in place.

They include reducing travel by senior government officials.

AFP

President Lungu Kicks As US Criticises Zambia Over Gay Sex Sentence

Zambian President Edgar Lungu gives a press briefing on July 6, 2017 at the Zambian State House in Lusaka. DAWOOD SALIM / AFP

 

Zambian President Edgar Lungu wants the US to recall its ambassador to Lusaka for criticising the southern African nation over a 15-year jail term slapped on two gay men for consensual sex.

Daniel Foote came under fire in Zambia after he expressed horror over the high court ruling late last month and urged Lusaka to review laws that discriminate against minority groups.

“You need to know that we have complained officially to the American government and we are waiting for their response because we don’t want such people in our midst,” Lungu said in comments on state-owned radio.

His press aide Isaac Chipampe late on Sunday said the protest letter Lungu was referring was the same one issued by Foreign Minister Joseph Malanji.

“The government is still waiting for a response from the United States government concerning the complaint,” said Chipampe.

Foote had told a news conference that Zambia, which relies on overseas aid, wanted diplomats “with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

Homosexuality is outlawed in the southern African country which also faces a high HIV burden.

Over the last 15 years, the US has provided more than $4 billion (3.6 billion euros) to fight  HIV/AIDS in Zambia.

AFP

U-23 AFCON: Nigeria Bounce Back To Beat Zambia

The Nigerian team celebrate one of their goals against Zambia in Cairo on November 12, 2019. Photo: Twitter- @thenff

 

 

Reigning champions, Nigeria returned to contention for a place in the semi-finals of the third Africa U-23 Cup of Nations after coming from a goal down to beat Zambia 3-1 in Cairo on Tuesday.

With a quarter of an hour gone, it appeared to be going away for the defending champions as they sat pointlessly and at the bottom of Group B.

Goals from three former U-17 World Cup winners, however, shot Nigeria to second in the group and with a good chance of toppling leaders South Africa when both teams clash at the same Al-Salam Stadium on Friday evening.

Zambia, who drew 0-0 with South Africa in a southern African derby on an opening day, were given a morale-boosting shot when Patson Daka, who also features for the country’s senior team, Chipolopolo, scored in the 11th minute to increase the worries of Nigerians.

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But Orji Okwonkwo levelled for the Olympic Eagles five minutes later, and then Kelechi Nwakali, captain of the Nigeria U-17 team that won the FIFA World Cup in Chile four years ago, with Okwonkwo also a major act, slammed in a superb free kick in the 65th minute to put Nigeria ahead for the first time in the tournament.

Germany-based forward Taiwo Awoniyi, who also won the U-17 World Cup in 2013 and who arrived in Egypt only on Sunday night, made it three on the stroke of 90 minutes to make Nigerians breathe easier.

South Africa, 1-0 winners over Cote d’Ivoire in the group’s earlier match, top the pool with four points (following their 0-0 opening day result with Zambia), and will contend with the inspired Nigerians on Friday.

Cote d’Ivoire, on three points like Nigeria but with less number of goals, will also battle Zambia, with only one point on Friday.

Victory against South Africa will steer Nigeria into the semi-finals and closer to a ticket to the Men’s football tournament of next year’s Olympics.

The top three teams at the tournament will qualify to represent Africa at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Xenophobia: Zambian Students Storm South Africa Embassy, Destroy Properties

Zambia’s university students burn the sign outside the South African Embassy in Lusaka on September 4, 2019, during a demonstration to protest against xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in the Rainbow Nation. SALIM DAWOOD / AFP

 

Angered by the recent xenophobic attacks, some Zambian students on Wednesday took to the South African Embassy in Lusaka, the country’s capital.

The visibly-angry students of the Rainbow nation defied huge police presence and approached the embassy to achieve their aim.

Despite being addressed by the Zambian general Police inspector Kakoma Kanganja and his police team, the citizens seems not to be pleased with his remark.

READ ALSO: Protesters Burn Tyres As Police Prevent Attack On Shoprite In Abuja

The action comes shortly after Zambia has cancelled an international friendly football match which was slated for Lusaka next weekend against South Africa.

“This is because of the security concerns, you never know what can happen,” Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) secretary-general Adrian Kashala, told AFP. “We want to be sure of the security of (the) visiting team”.

The attacks on foreign stores began a day after South African truckers started a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers. They blocked roads and torched foreign-driven vehicles mainly in the southwestern KwaZulu-Natal province.

See photos from the protest below: