LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua)
-- The Zambian government on Thursday
warned that it would not allow lawlessness in the country following
the arrest and charging of an opposition leader with treason.
Sporadic riots have been reported in various parts of the country
after Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the United Party for National
Development (UPND), was arrested and charged with four counts of
crime including treason, for alleged failure to give way to
President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade.
On Thursday morning, riots broke out in Kanyama, a densely
populated slum west of the country’s capital Lusaka, as the
opposition leader’s supporters took to the streets to call for his
Police spokesperson Esther Mwata-Katongo confirmed the outbreak
of the riots but noted that quick action by police prevented the
riots from worsening.
On Wednesday, police arrested four tax drivers in southern
Zambia’s Choma district for inciting rioters.
Minister of Home Affairs Stephen Kampyongo said the security
wings will not entertain any kind of lawless and that anyone found
trying to disturb the peace will be arrested.
"We have also seen that some social media publications are
inciting people to riot.
"No one is going to hide behind social media and we are going to
pursue those agitating lawless and violence," he said.
He told reporters in Lusaka that following the conclusion of the
investigations and arrest of the opposition leader by the police, it
now remains up to the courts of law to handle the matter
Meanwhile the Zambian president said he will not interfere in the
work of the police or the judiciary, saying they should be allowed
to work independently.
Geoffrey Mwamba, vice-president of the UPND, demanded release of
Hichilema and said the arrest was politically motivated.
"There were no police officers along that road and no vehicle in
our convoy tried to block the presidential motorcade.
"The arrest of our president is a planned move," he said.
He said the strategy of the ruling party was to create a one
party state by arresting opposition leaders on trump-up charges,
closing critical media and denying citizens fundamental rights such
as right to assembly.
A consortium of civil society organizations said the arrest of
the opposition leader might fuel the existing tension in the country
and called for dialogue between Lungu and the opposition leader.
Is Zambia headed for another
LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) --
A statement issued by a former governor of Zambia’s
central bank that the country’s public debt has reached crisis
levels has raised fears as to whether the country risked plunging
into another unsustainable debt situation.
Caleb Fundanga, who served as Bank of Zambia (BoZ) governor from
2002 to 2011, recently warned that Zambia’s public debt has reached
The former governor’s fears emanated from a recent debt
sustainability analysis conducted by the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) that indicated that Zambia has a
high risk of external debt distress, emanating from the Eurobonds
maturing between 2022 and 2027.
This is in contrast to another analysis conducted by the two
institutions in 2015 that had showed that the country’s external
debt distress was considered to be moderate.
The former central bank governor, in remarks delivered at a
public discussion organized by the Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ),
an association representing economists, added that the country will
face significant fiscal pressure between 2022 and 2027 as the
On the other hand, the ratio of external debt service to revenue
is projected to increase and breach the sustainable threshold of 20
percent between 2022 and 2027 from 9 percent on average, he added.
Zambia’s debt has increased considerably following the issuance
of three Eurobonds.
The country issued three Eurobonds of 750 million dollars in
2012, the second one of 1 billion dollars in 2014 and a further 1.25
billion dollars in 2015.
According to government figures, the debt was standing at 9.44
billion dollars as at September 2016, comprising 6.7 billion dollars
of external debt and 2.7 billion dollars of domestic debt.
According to analysts, the country’s external debt has escalated
by 240 percent in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016 from
1.97 billion dollars to 6.7 billion dollars.
However, other independent sources have put the country’s debt at
about 12 billion dollars, a move that has caused consternation from
stakeholders who feel that the country could plunge back into
another unsustainable debt.
"The government must undertake fiscal consolidation to avoid
rapid accumulation of debt as current debt levels are
unsustainable," the former central bank governor said.
He has since advised the government to explore cheaper sources of
finance and maximize borrowing from concessional and
semi-concessional sources while moderating commercial borrowing.
The fear of the country’s debt becoming unsustainable was
highlighted by Finance Minister Felix Mutati in his 2017 budget
presentation to parliament on 11th November, 2016.
In his address, he had stated that the government needed to be
responsible to ensure debt sustainability and added that the country
was "walking a tight rope".
Muna Hantuba, an economist, also expressed concern over the
country debt, saying the public debt was a crisis.
The economist, who was speaking at the same public discussion,
urged the government to refrain from borrowing more money and avoid
growing the debt crisis.
The Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection (JCTR), a social and
economic lobby group, is concerned over the high debt levels
especially if the borrowed money was not being used on high-return
According to its statement, increased debt levels usually imply
higher taxes on the already heavily taxed citizens and consequently
a higher cost of living.
Zambia’s debt crisis became increasingly acute in the 1980s as a
result of a fall in oil prices in the 1970s and dropping copper
prices that forced the government to borrow heavily to finance
Zambia’s foreign debt, which had reached alarming proportions of
about 7.2 billion dollars by the year 2000, was written off when the
country attained the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
initiative completion point in 2005.
The HIPC program was launched in 1996 by the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) to reduce the external debt burden
of eligible HIPC countries to sustainable levels in a reasonably
short period of time.
The southern African nation was among 18 African nations that
qualified for the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), in
which G8 countries agreed to cancel 100 percent of the debt owed.
As a result of that debt cancelation, Zambia’s debt was reduced
to only 500 million dollars, leaving the country with enough
resources to improve its economy.
Zambia arrests Ugandan
national with counterfeit 70,000 USD
LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) --
Authorities in Zambia on Wednesday arrested a Ugandan
national for being in possession of over 70,000 U.S. dollars
The 36-year-old Ugandan was arrested in Lusaka, the Zambian
capital at a shopping mall in the central business district by
officials from the country’s anti-drug and money laundering agency.
Theresa Katongo, spokesperson of the Drug Enforcement Commission
(DEC), said the named Ugandan national who resides in one of the
suburbs of the city, was found with 79,500 dollars counterfeit notes
after a tip-off from the public.
The authorities also arrested a Zambian national with 135,000
counterfeit U.S. dollars, she added.
China’s Huawei partners with
Zambian university on ICT trainings
LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) --
Chinese telecom giant Huawei on Thursday signed a
memorandum of understanding with Zambia’s biggest public university
for an Information Communication Technology (ICT) development
program aimed at boosting knowledge in learners.
The Chinese firm signed the deal with the University of Zambia (UNZA)
for the establishment of a Huawei Authorized Network Academy and
Practice Center at the learning institution situated in Lusaka, the
Thomas Hu, the company’s country director, said the program
includes the provision of wireless, transmission, optical fiber
access and solar power courses and equipment from Huawei as well as
a laboratory to allow students to get hands-on practices.
The program, he said, will enhance the empowerment and skill
transfer of the ICT talents in Zambia.
Under the program, Huawei has spent 350,000 U.S. dollars to
establish the academy and center while 12 ICT lecturers have been
The company, he said, intends to set up a 17,500-dollar
scholarship for top five students at the university to further their
According to him, the massive investment in ICT development over
the years requires catching up of human resources development.
Felix Phiri, Permanent Secretary in Charge of Special Duties at
Cabinet Office, commended the company for the initiative, saying it
will provide an opportunity to many students to attain Huawei ICT
certification as well as equip them with ICT skills.
He said most of the learning institutions in the country lacked
modern and advanced technological equipment to train skilled
graduates for the industry.
"All too often, the private sector bemoans the lack of real-world
class skills of those coming out of institutions of higher learning,
complaining that young graduates do not have the hands-on experience
necessary to apply themselves on the job," he said.
According to the agreement, the academy will be run by Huawei in
collaboration with UNZA for three years and thereafter it will be
handed over to the university.