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IMF chief visit: a PR stunt – M’membe

…The Socialist Party leader says International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva’s visit is aimed at showing that the Bretton Woods Institution has become better and humane


The United States government is trying to use Zambia as a template of its new quest to block the China-Africa cooperation, Socialist Party president Fred M’membe has said. 

Mr M’membe wondered what the purpose of the recent visit to Zambia by US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen was, if not to undermine China’s position in Zambia and Africa as a whole. 

He also said the simultaneous visit to Zambia by International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva and Dr Yellen was not mere coincidence but a public relations (PR) stunt by the IMF to claim that the Bretton Woods institution had become better and more humane.

Mr M’membe said while the IMF is seeking extensions of maturity dates and reduction of interest payments, there were serious challenges.

He explained that unlike the debt relief efforts of the 1990s and early 2000s, where lenders were mainly bilateral and multilateral, current lenders included private bond market holders.

“Presently, the lenders have different characteristics and motives. And today there’s also China, which was not one of the lenders of the 1990s and 2000s. The Chinese debt is a mixed basket of private, quasi-government and government creditors. This makes it very difficult to reach a common framework,” he said. 

Mr M’membe said it was not fair to blame China for any delay in reaching a solution to Zambia debt crisis. 

He also said following the false “China debt-trap” narrative being peddled, the IMF US, and European Union (EU) were pressuring African countries to abandon infrastructure projects financed by China in return for debt relief. 

Mr M’membe said the goal of the visit to Zambia by Dr Yellen was to make Zambia as template for its new push to block the Belt and Road Initiative and China-Africa cooperation, which was soundly based on building modern infrastructure in different sectors of the economy. 

He explained that the challenge with the new “debt relief” arrangements of the IMF was that it focused on filling fiscal gaps in government finances rather than developing the economy. 

Mr M’membe said the demands being made by the West on China and the type of conditions being imposed by the IMF on Zambia in return for assistance, revealed several objectives that could be problematic for China and the Belt and Road Initiative. 

“The call on China to provide more assistance in the IMF-driven debt restructuring of Zambia implies that China contributes to bailing out Western private sovereign bond holders, who themselves are pressed by the global financial crisis,” Mr M’membe said

He said China’s share of Zambia’s foreign debt is just a mere 30 percent and the real culprits, the US government should be focusing on the Western private bondholders.  

Mr M’membe advised Mr Hichilema and the new dawn Government not to be misled into believing that cancelling of infrastructure projects would lead to any improvement in Zambia’s economy because there was no evidence supporting the IMF staff assertion that these infrastructure projects did not yield any significant boost to revenues.


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