President Edgar Lungu’s Special Assistant for Press and Public Relations has said that it was regrettable that U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton has wrong information about Zambia’s debt to China.
Responding to claims made by a White House official, John Bolton, that China is about to take over ZESCO to recover the $6-10 billion debt, Mr Chanda said that ZESCO was never provided as collateral and Zambia’s debt to China was only $3.1 billion.
“It is regrettable that such information can come from such a high-ranking official. In fact, ZESCO is not within the scheme of Zambia’s debt to China,” he added.
Mr Chanda said Zambia valued its relations with both China and the US and would not deal with either of them exclusively.
On Thursday, the Trump administration unveiled a new Africa policy focused on combating the “predatory” practices of China and Russia, and ending what it calls “indiscriminate assistance” and “unproductive, unsuccessful and unaccountable” UN peacekeeping missions.
Mr Bolton said that the US was losing ground to China and Russia, who he said were using their investment and trade to gain direct leverage on African governments, often through corrupt means.
“China uses bribes, opaque agreements, and the strategic use of debt to hold states in Africa captive to Beijing’s wishes and demands. Its investment ventures are riddled with corruption, and do not meet the same environmental or ethical standards as US development projects,” Bolton said.
As an example of Chinese leverage, he said Zambia was in debt for up to $10bn to China, which was poised to take over Zambia’s national power company to recoup the debt.
Mr Bolton also accused Russia of selling arms and energy in exchange for votes at the UN. Those votes he added, helped keep “strongmen in power, undermine peace and security, and run counter to the best interests of the African people”.
“The predatory practices pursued by China and Russia stunt economic growth in Africa; threaten the financial independence of African nations; inhibit opportunities for US investment; interfere with US military operations; and pose a significant threat to US national security interests,” he said.