Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations Amos Chanda says the “extreme preposterous allegations” being peddled by Bloomberg and Africa Confidential are aimed at strangulating the economy by stopping Foreign Direct Investment.
At a media briefing today, Chanda lamented that the lies being peddled by the two media institutions were putting Zambia in bad light in the eyes of the international financial market.
“The second matter (for which I called this briefing), is the concerted attacks on the currency, on the country’s economy clearly by elements that have been paid to peddle lies about the state of the economy. Once the President acknowledges the general difficulties of the times, he is stressing that government is taking strides to address certain issues but State House finds that it is extremely unfortunate that publications such as Africa Confidential and Bloomberg have dedicated the past week peddling lies about our economy to undermine the country in the eyes of the financial market by insisting on non existent default,” Chanda said.
“So Zambia is in the financial market, it has borrowed money so if you begin to hint on the default, you are actually trying to incite the markets to be nervous about the Zambian economy and therefore ultimately what you hope to achieve is to strangulate the economy by stopping Foreign Direct Investment. Fortunately, the Minister of Finance and Treasury team are competently dealing with the difficulties that are in the economy.”
Asked who he thought was paying Bloomberg and Africa Confidential to peddle lies about Zambia, Chanda declined to give names, but said government was doing something about it.
“We can only go as far as saying we have brought these issues to the attention of the editors at Bloomberg because we still have confidence that that is a respected outfit, we are no longer engaging with Africa Confidential, suffice to say that when their lies extend beyond a certain level, we will tell the nation, we don’t want a ping pong with a publication whose agenda is well known. But just a caution on Bloomberg that they mustn’t fall prey to the very cheap and malicious media propaganda that is being put there,” Chanda said.
“Again, because there is a government to run, the affairs of state cannot be reduced to debating as to whoever is doing it. Government is aware and is doing something about it. Suffice to say that they are not reflective of the true picture because you cannot go and hint that the government will this year default without saying the reasons why it will default, when there’s no record of a default. This country has not defaulted on its obligation, even when Dr Kaunda printed mealie meal coupons, the country still didn’t default on its debt obligation. It would be naïve for anyone to deny the general difficulty of the times but that is not to say there has been a default.”
He insisted that government had not defaulted on any loans.
“The government is not in default of any loans whatsoever. It is meeting its foreign service obligations, it is meeting its domestic obligation, of course, it has to be acknowledged that with the attendant difficulties which you may have seen in delayed salaries in some of the months but I can tell you, and civil servants can confirm that steps are being undertaking that is why sometimes, actually in the months of March and April, actually salaries in some cases were paid one week ahead of time so we find the recent publications, one by Bloomberg, making very preposterous, extreme preposterous allegations; drawing a parallel between Zambia and Venezuela, for lack of a better term, that makes Bloomberg unrecognisable to us, this is a respected wire firm that cannot descend into quoting fictitious analysts and putting them across,” he said.
Chanda said government had opted to stop engaging Africa Confidential but to respond to their lies if they breached a certain limit.
“For Africa Confidential, our views are very known, it’s no longer a publication that it was, it is a formerly respected tabloid that has willingly transformed itself into a scandal sheet and that is very regrettable. What we find extremely puzzling is the agenda we have seen in the past weeks where Bloomberg would pitch a story on fictitious analysts hinting at the default (on loans). The Minister of Finance will continue to update the nation. She is so transparent, the debt servicing mechanism is so transparent, she tells the nation where we are,” said Chanda.
“All of you who have any doubts can get in touch with the Treasury and you’ll get the updated information. There’s no default, the commitment to meeting the obligation is there, the difficulties the economy is encountering are being undertaken, the Minister of Finance regularly briefs the President and the President has full confidence in the Treasury and monitoring team at the Bank of Zambia, that they are intervening correctly to address that problems that may be attending the economy but all this is put (aside) in a calculated attempt to put the country in a bad light in the eyes of international markets because markets react in the same way banks operate. If you continuously tell lies about a bank running out of money, eventually there will be a run on the bank.”