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New Zambian president pledges to plug black hole of debt


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

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.

“We had known for a long time that there was non-full disclosure,” Hichilema said on Tuesday, a week after taking office. “So now that we’re in, we are beginning to see that the debt numbers that were being talked about officially are not really the comprehensive numbers.”..

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