Zambia’s new leader pledges to stabilise nation’s shaky finances

Zambia’s new President Hakainde Hichilema pledged to rein in public debt and the funds deficit, whereas restoring the nation’s credibility following a default on its international loans.

“Our focus over the following 5 years will probably be on restoring macroeconomic stability,” Hichilema mentioned in his inauguration deal with in Lusaka, the capital, on Tuesday. “We’ll develop our financial system so we are able to raise extra folks out of poverty than ever earlier than.”

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The businessman and cattle rancher who turned to politics in 2006 takes over an financial system buckling below document ranges of exterior debt that led to Zambia turning into Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign defaulter in November. Gross home product shrank 3% final 12 months, the inflation charge is nearly 25% and youth unemployment is rampant in a nation the place the median age is lower than 18 years.

One of many new administration’s high priorities will probably be to win the Worldwide Financial Fund’s endorsement for an financial restoration program and related $1.3 billion mortgage, a bundle that may underpin restructuring negotiations with holders of Zambia’s practically $13 billion in international loans.

Hichilema additionally wants to fix ties with copper producers that generate greater than 70% of export earnings with the intention to unlock at the least $2 billion in stalled tasks. Lungu’s administration had hostile relations with the business that curtailed output and funding whilst costs for the steel surged to document highs in current months.

Hichilema, 59, gained August 12 elections with 59% of legitimate votes solid, and about one million greater than his predecessor Edgar Lungu — an final result that was broadly seen as a backlash towards surging inflation and falling residing requirements within the southern African nation. The election had the very best proportion voter turnout since 2006, and the victory margin was the largest since 1996.

Hichilema was sworn in alongside Vice President Mutale Nalumango, a trainer who served as deputy speaker of the Nationwide Meeting from 2006 to 2011. Individuals slept outdoors the 60 000-seater stadium the place the inauguration was held and stuffed it hours earlier than the occasion started. Heads of state from 10 nations attended the ceremony.

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