Zambia has written an official de’marche to the United States government to request a retraction of a portion of the statement made by a senior US official John Bolton, who alleged that the Chinese government intends to possess some state owned enterprises because of governments failure to settle it’s outstanding loan.
But US Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote says the White House was referring to widespread reports as well as examples of what the Chinese had done in other countries.
Zambia’s first secretary for press and public relations at High Commission on Ethiopia, Inutu Mwanza, said Foreign Affairs Ministers Joseph Malanji disclosed this in Addis Ababa yesterday, adding that the Zambians government was optimistic that the American Embassy in Lusaka transmit the de’marche to Washington DC as soon as possible.
In his statement to unveil new USA Policy on Africa in Relation to China and Russia , USA National Security Advisor John Bolton said Zambia owed China between US$6 billion and US$10 billion and was poised to lose its state utility company for China to recoup the debt.
But Malanji said the Zambian government was disappointed that such a statement lacking accurate information, could come from a high ranking official who could have easily verified the information with the American Embassy in Lusaka before giving a presentation of such magnitude.
“Such misinformation gives a bad name to America’s foreign policy,” Malanji said, adding “Zambia enjoys cordial bilateral and multilateral relations with the US government, and does not wish to see its diplomatic ties strained as a result of misinformation.”
The Minister said Zambia had not offered any of its state assets as collateral for the sovereign guaranteed oans the country was obtaining.
“Therefore, no state asset or state enterprise were at risk of being repossessed as they have not been used as collateral security,” said Malanji.
He also said Zambia was not in a debt crisis and its debt ratio in relation to the country’s GDP, was healthy.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said Zambia was managing its debt repayment very well and had not defaulted in any of its repayment plans.
In reaction to the demand from the Zambian government, Ambassador Foote said non-transparent contraction of loans posed a burden on recipient countries while fuelling corruption.
“While I have seen no evidence pointing toward a ZESCO takeover, the White House referred to widespread reports and approaches the Chinese have already taken in other countries. Such non-transparent contracting and debt acquisition impose unsustainable debt on recipients, fuelling corruption and limiting the options for the citizens of recipient countries to determine their future,” said Ambassador Foote in a brief reaction released by the Embassy, Sunday.