Zambia’s New President Pledges to Uncover Country’s True Debt Burden

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 African nation’s debt, Bloomberg News reported. 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 fueled by over-borrowing left the state with at least $12.7 billion 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 in an interview 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.” An accurate picture of the nation’s debt may help remove a roadblock for talks with bondholders. It may also improve chances of a bailout deal with the IMF, a prerequisite for any debt restructuring. Read more.