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Economist Noel Nkhoma unpacks meaning of debt restructuring 



RENOWNED economist Noel Nkhoma says the new dawn government’s debt restructuring has ‘refilled Zambia’s oxygen tank that had run out, allowing the country some breathing space.’

President Hichilema stated yesterday that Zambia has reached a debt restructuring agreement for the country’s 6.3 billion dollar debt, a negotiation that drew praise from the chief of the IMF.

Many Zambians hailed the action on social media, while political opponents attempted to tarnish the government’s monumental achievement.

However, on Hot FM today, a respected economist deconstructed this revelation, explaining why President Hichilema and the government deserve praise.

“Now what does this mean; we were running out of oxygen and now the oxygen tap has been opened once again to give us a second chance… you know this goes to reaffirm the credibility that the new dawn administration has been able to achieve in the last two years on this road,” Nkhoma said.

Nkhoma explained that the restructure will also free up resources for the country, such as the 188 million dollars that were previously subject to IMF condition precedent.

“Because it was not disbursed at the time we were expecting it [188 million dollars] you saw what happened to the exchange rate. The confidence in the Zambian economy began to dwindle and triggered interest rates to rise… But because of the eminent announcement you have seen how the market has responded, they are responding to this decision so it is important that we understand that this is going to allow the IMF board at its next sitting which is in a few weeks to now approve the disbursement of 188 million dollars,” he explained.

He said that, coming from a proclaimed debt standstill in which Zambia had no capacity to service debt, the restructuring would allow the country to renegotiate how much debt servicing it could perform.

“If we were paying say 500 million dollars before the debt stand still per quarter we can now say we can only pay for example 100 million dollars per quarter,” Nkhoma explained.

According to Nkhoma, this allows Zambia to free up resources for education, economic activities for empowerment, job development, and health.

He however added, “As much as we have reached this far, we have to manage the optimism around. There are going to be tough decisions that will have to be made but there will also be benefits. So to think that just by this announcement Zambia’s debt issues have been solved is actually misplaced.”

Nkhoma explained that this restructuring will now pave the way for better engagement negotiations with all debtors that may see lower interest rates and extended times of payment.

“We have passed what we call the official creditors committee approval, we have secured it. And what is being negotiated now in terms of restructuring is the 6.3 billion dollars. Now what that means is that there will be a process to sign what you call a memorandum of understanding with official creditors. Now official creditors are bilateral lenders; China, India, Saudi Arabia, UK and so on and so forth, so they will now have to allow or agree to the ‘famous hair cut’ interest reduction and extended maturity,” he said.

Nkhoma explained that the restructuring was one phase and now Zambia would have to get into bilateral engagements with all its creditors.

“Zambia will have to sit down with all its official creditors, one-by-one, to now look at the quantum of the debt, quantum of the interest and negotiate individually. This is not coming as a ball pack; these individual agreements will now form a consolidated position,” he added.

“The second stage is also mind you the private creditors committee; these are individual bond holders who have lent money through subscriptions to the Eurobond; this is where complex negotiations are going to be.”

He also put to rest speculations that China, who is currently Zambia’s biggest creditor [4.1 billion dollars], was also being part of the restructuring as opposed to falsehood being spread.

“The Chinese Prime Minister had to fly to attend and even at the point of this agreement the Chinese Prime minister was there so it is China who has basically unlocked this development. So China is a bigger player… The Prime Minister himself just to be able to demonstrate commitment and the desire to get Zambia back to what we call economic stability, he had to fly to Paris to be part of this process,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Friday, 23rd June, 2023)


Herbalist says former First Lady ‘grabbed’ her properties to recover her missing US$400,000



TRIAL in a case former First Lady Esther Lungu is accused of theft of cars opened yesterday with a herbalist testifying against her.

Elizabeth Phiri tetsief how how she was picked and beaten by three armed police officers who later took her to former President Edgar Lungu’s house where Mrs Lungu demanded US$400,000 from her.

Ms Phiri said she was told that the money in question was initially given to Mr Lungu’s nice Catherine Banda who later told the Lungu’s that she gave the money to her(Ms Phiri).

In this case, Mrs Lungu, Ms Banda and there others, who include two police officers, are charged with theft of cars and money laundering involving over K1.5million.

Mrs Lungu is also accused of concealing US$400,000, money reasonably suspected to be proceeds of crime.

Other suspects are James Phiri and Lee Chisulo, both police officers, Kapambwe Lungu.

Between August 9, 2021 and September 30, 2022, the five allegedly stole a Mitsubishi canter worth K 320,000, belonging to Ms Phiri.

It is also alleged that the accused stole a Toyota Alex worth K 110,000 belonging to Furhana Patel.

Mrs Lungu and others are also accused of stealing a certificate of title relating to stand number S/LUSAKA/333/2977 situated in Libala, worth K 1,050,000 belonging to Ms Phiri.

During continued trial, Ms Phiri narrated how in 2020, she met Ms Banda who sought her herbal services so that she can find a husband and bear more children.

The herbalist said after the services were rendered at K4, 000, Ms Banda, who told her she was an orphan, became close to her and she even introduced Ms Banda to her daughter, Furhana.

“She [Ms Banda] started phoning telling me that she was at Furhana’s place in Libala,” the witness said.

Ms Phiri said sometime last year, she was picked up by plain clothed armed policemen who also beat up together with Ms Banda.

“While beating her [Ms Banda] they said they want the ‘parcel’.

“Catherine pointed at me and said she gave it [parcel] to me. They held me and started beating me and asked me to give them the parcel,” she said.

Ms Phiri said the three men put her in a van and took her to her house where they searched the rooms.

The armed men continued to demand for “the parcel” and threatened to kill her before she was detained at a police cell and later taken to Mr Lungu’s residence.

“When they took me into the house, Mrs Lungu was seated directly to the door. When I looked to the side, I saw Mr Edgar [Lungu],” she said.

She said Mr Lungu explained that she was taken to the house in connection with a missing US$40,000 he had given Mrs Lungu.

“He said ‘My wife got that money and gave it to my niece, Catherine Banda”.

Ms Phiri said she expressed ignorance about the US$400,000.

The court heard that Ms Lungu then instructed that Ms Phiri be taken back to her home because she appeared confused.

She said the following morning, Mrs Lungu phoned her and asked her to go to her house in Ibex.

Ms Phiri started off to Ibex accompanied by her daughter Furhana.

On arrival, Mrs Lungu asked Ms Banda to enlist the goods the witness bought purportedly using the US$400,000.

Ms Phiri said Mrs Lungu called the three accused men to pick her and proceed to grab the properties she bought using the US$400,000.

“They got a canter, a Runx and Alext for my child Fahana, they got the white books for the vehicle and the title deed of a property in Libala,” she narrated.

She told the court that she wa never given the US$400,000 and that the money she bought the house was given to her by Chief Mukuni of Kazungula who is her grand father.

(Mwebantu, Tuesday, 28th November, 2023)

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Speaker sued for the third time.



WITHIN a month after a civil society organisation and Mporokoso lawmaker Brian Mundubile sued Speaker of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti in connection with activities in Parliament, there is a third lawsuit against her.

In the new case, Chilubi Member of Parliament Mulenga Fube is challenging Ms Mutti’s decision to suspend 16 Patriotic Front(PF) Members of Parliament and two independents without being fully heard.
Mr Fube wants the Lusaka High Court to declare that a reasonable tribunal properly directing its mind would not arrive at such a decision as made by Ms Mutti.

He also wants a declaration that Ms Mutti’s decision to suspend 16 PF members of Parliment and two Independents without being afforded an opportunity to be heard with sufficient time and facility is unreasonable.

The lawmaker also wants a declaration that the Speaker’s move to withhold salaries due to the MPs, which salaries are an incident of the fact that the salaries are due by reason of the fact that one is a MP, is illegal,null and void.

Also, Mr Fube seeks an order of certiorari to remove into the High Court for the purpose of quashing the said decision by the speaker to suspend the said MPs without afforded sufficient time and facility.

Mr Fube also wants an order that the grant of leave for judicial review or the decision should operate as a stay of all acts and further proceedings in pursuance of the decisions to which this application relates.
In the alternative, he seeks an order that the said decision to suspend the affected MPs and from getting a salary was procedurally improper, made in bad faith ,and thus illegal and null and void.

This is according to a notice of application for leave to apply for Judicial review, seeking to challenge the Speaker’s decision to suspect the lawmakers.

“If permission to apply for judicial review is granted, a direction that the hearing of the application for judicial review be expedited,” he submits.

He further submits that the Ms Mutti’s decision to change the sitting arrangement in the National Assembly and replace Brian Mundubile with Robert Chabinga as leader of the opposition was subjudice because the matter relating change of PF office bearers is still active in court.

In another active case, Mporokoso Member of Parliament Brian Mundubile has sued Ms Mutti challenging her decision to replace him with Mafinga PF MP Robert Chabinga.
Mr Mundubile argues that Speaker Mutti’s decision to appoint Chabinga as leader of the opposition was illegal, irrational and procedurally improper, as she acted in excess of her powers and should therefore be declared null and void.

He now wants the court to stay the decision that was made by Speaker Mutti to replace him until Some few weeks ago, Institute of Law, Policy Research and Human Rights sued Ms Mutti in the Constitutional Court seeking interpretation of the constitutionality of her deicion to accept Chabinga as Leader of the Opposition.

(Mwebantu, Saturday, 25th November, 2023)

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Zambian delegation explores business prospects in Italy with president Hichilema’s call for mutual collaboration



THIRTY-FOUR Zambian companies, facilitated by the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and supported by the Zambia Development Agency have engaged in a productive exchange of views on the business potential between Zambia and Italy in Rome.

And President Hakainde Hichilema has urged Italian companies to explore promising opportunities in various sectors, including agriculture, energy, mining, infrastructure, health, and tourism, all of which Zambia offers in abundance.

Emphasising the interconnectedness of the global community, President Hichilema encouraged businesses to collaborate beyond bureaucratic boundaries and segregation.

He stressed the crucial importance of fostering mutual partnerships benefiting both nations, leveraging advanced technology, innovative solutions, and accessible capital.

President Hichilema expressed optimism about tangible transactions resulting from the forum, inviting businesses facing challenges in setting up operations in Zambia to bring them forward for resolution.

“Recognizing that Italian businesses possess advanced technology and capital, while we boast critical mineral endowment, we emphasized the crucial importance of fostering mutual partnerships that benefit both countries, through top-notch technology, innovative solutions, and accessible capital,” he said.

(Mwebantu, Wednesday,  22nd November,  2023)

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