THE Economics Association of Zambia – EAZ would like to respond to the recent negative publicity through a damaging article entitled Avoiding debt default and turning Zambia around — at the same time written by Dr. Greg Mills of Johannesburg based Brenthurst (Anglo-America funded charity). The Association wishes to state that Dr. Greg Mills is well known for his Op-Ed articles with intent to damage reputations and cause panic in the international capital markets in the name of independent journalism with exaggerated facts.
Such reporting is inconsistent with what the Brenthurst foundation believes its mandate is to seek ways of funding Africa development.
The EAZ Board finds it sad that, instead of focusing on the macroeconomic challenges such as a consequence of rolling black outs, corruption and highly politically volatile environment in his country, Gregory opts to immaturely misrepresent facts in a country which he has not even resided in.
Regrettably, the Association will not sit back and allow uninformed facets of society to misrepresent and paint an inaccurate picture that has damaging effects and could result in investor jitteriness in a country that is on a path to fiscal fitness recovery in the medium term.
The Association observes with regret that such poetic and extravagance of likening the Zambian debt situation to an alcoholic is malicious and immature which the Brenthurst Charity proprietors should not allow as it reflects very ill intent on the part of its writers. Let alone Zambia’s external debt is in the public domain and it is not rocket science that infrastructure spend which is being carried out with good intent has contributed to the USD9.51billion stock. This is nothing new at all.
The Zambian authorities have admitted to the current stock and have instituted aggressive measure to manage the stock through austerity measures and a Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) which should see the copper producer on a path to fiscal recovery in the medium term.
This the Association believes is not anything new to the outside community. The Zambian authorities have been transparent with through sharing of quarterly fiscal reviews. Zambia’s balance sheet vulnerabilities are in the public domain and so are the measures that its authorities are taking to correct.
The Association also acknowledges that reserves have fallen to USD$1.6billion but in mitigation, Dr. Greg seems uninformed that the authorities have placed measures such as allowing of remission of mineral royalty taxes in dollars directly to the central bank and that gold will also be added to the stock to assist boost the low stocks.
A good and well researched writer would be bringing out all these facts as opposed to one legged facts, the Association believes.
Zambia’s Head of State at the opening of the World Bank International Development Corporation in Livingstone acknowledged copper producer’s debt position and assured international stakeholders that his Minister of Finance and her team were working the around the clock to ensure that Zambia honors her obligations. This same sentiment was echoed by the Minister of Finance and her Permanent Secretarial team. The Association is also cognizant that the 2019 debt service repayments are in excess of USD$1,408million which the authorities have given assurance a debt redemption strategy is in place, however what is very worrying is the spirit in which Dr. Greg Mills Head of the Brenthurst Foundation reports such data with malicious intent.
The Association further wishes to school Dr. Greg Mills that it is true that FQM did express interest in the states 20% stake in Kansanshi mine but the full picture is also that this was not the only unsolicited for bid, other mines have put offers on the table. As though this is not enough, the Association wonders why offers would increase if Zambia truly is not a favorable mining destination? The Association, thinks that it is a sad state of affairs to fuel propaganda and accusations on the state of the mines which the government has been fighting to correct through tax measures that will allow citizens to enjoy the benefits of resources resident in their backyard. It is about a dry point of construction that Africa in 2018 set its foot down through mining tax regimes that is more citizen centric which has been seen in DRC, Tanzania and Zambia which never in the history of the continent has been see. The Association believes the era for Zambians to be bulldozed around on matters such a taxation is over and that Zambians are alive to many facts and as such will going forward stand for what they believe is true and right.
The Association has done its due diligence and has established that Dr. Greg Mills – Head of the Brenthurst Foundation is funded by Anglo America and are skewed to believe further is being used as front to advance ill agenda’s aimed at discrediting African nations in achieving selfish objectives. Anglo America is currently conducting explorations which reflect intent to re-invest in Zambia and such articles could just jeopardize relations with the authorities and as such the Association would like to caution Dr. Greg from hiding under the wraps of independent journalism with malicious intent to focus on reporting the macroeconomic challenges his country grapples with. If truly the Brenthurst foundation aims to seek ways of funding Africa development, then Dr. Greg would need to rethink his writing style and base it on facts with more mature intent. The Association is more than convinced that Dr. Greg Mills intention is to cause asset sell off pressure that should force the Zambian authorities to resort to realizing its stake in the mines which whoever is funding him has keen interest in.
The Association will not allow this kind of sabotage to happen but will expose such ill intended motives.
ECONOMICS ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA
Ms RITA MKANDAWIRE
Deputy National Secretary on behalf of the Board.