Zambia’s Public Debt “an unsettling fiscal challenge”, Faith, Civil Leaders Say

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Members of the Civil Society Organization (CSO) Debt Alliance in Zambia have described the country’s outstanding public debt as “an unsettling fiscal challenge.”

In a Tuesday, May 10 statement, CSO Debt Alliance officials who include members of the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) and Caritas Zambia also call on the Zambian government to publish the concluded Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA).

DSA is an assessment of how a country's current level of debt and prospective borrowing affects its current and future ability to meet debt service obligations.

“The unsustainability of Zambia’s public debt has remained an unsettling fiscal challenge over the past years,” CSO Debt Alliance chairperson, Fr. Alex Muyebe has said. 

In the statement, Fr. Muyebe says that calls to restructure the debt and set the Zambian economy on a path towards sustainable growth "have been voluminous among stakeholders, most of which have underscored the inevitable need for debt relief.”


The JCTR Executive Director calls on the Zambian government "to double its effort aimed at consolidating all the support that this process requires from all key stakeholders including the general citizenry." 

The landlocked Southern Africa nation owes $27 billion, inclusive of interest arrears, to foreign and local creditors. 

The debt includes $16.86 billion in foreign holdings, of which $520 million is interest arrears. 

In the May 10 message, CSO Debt Alliance chairperson calls on the nation’s lenders to “come on board and participate in the restructuring of Zambia's debt."

“We cannot overemphasize the dire need for transparency and consistent engagement throughout this process,” the member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) says. 

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“In this spirit we call upon the IMF, World Bank and Government of Zambia to consider a swift publication of the recently concluded Debt Sustainability Analysis," he says, adding that CSO Alliance members are "thrilled" with news of the conclusion of the DSA. 

Fr. Muyebe further says that the DSA "is key in informing public and policy discourse on its estimated extend of the problem and prescription of the relief, not only among creditors but also among the general citizenry who are the primary subject of any economic reforms consequent to this process."

“The DSA forms a significant prelude to the debt restructuring process that will, in a broad sense, pave the way for the rebuilding of the economy which Zambia desperately but evidently needs to embark on," the Jesuit Priest says. 

In February, members of the CSO Debt Alliance urged those who lend Zambia money to consider cancelling the loans

Members of the alliance said the loans given by private entities and other governments "at high interest rates" plunged Zambia into a “debt crisis.”


They added that cancelling the debts would benefit Zambians by allowing the Southern African nation to deal with other multiple external crises.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.