New Zambian president pledges to plug black hole of debt

Hakainde Hichilema’s government is discovering Zambia’s true debt burden is much larger than envisaged

01 September 2021 - 18:44 By Matthew Hill and Taonga Clifford Mitimingi

Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema’s government is trying to uncover the full extent of its obligations as it prepares to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and begin talks to revamp the nation’s debt. 

Hichilema’s landslide victory in the election last month placed him in control of an economy with a “bigger hole” than he envisaged, having last year become Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter. Years of government budget blowouts fuelled by over-borrowing left the state with at least $12.7bn (R183bn) in external debt, according to the most recent official figure...

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