Government negotiations Germany supports Zambia’s reform efforts
Development Minister Svenja Schulze said: “Our development cooperation with Zambia has a double impact. On the one hand it supports President Hakainde Hichilema’s democratic reform agenda. And on the other hand it helps to strengthen southern Africa as a whole – a region with huge development potential, in which Zambia plays an important role, forming a bridge to central and east Africa.”
President Hichilema started the reforms as soon as he took office. The media and civil society are now enjoying more freedom. And the influence of formerly powerful party cadres who were often willing to resort to violence was reduced. In addition, the new government wants to also abolish the death penalty and the punishment for defamation of the president.
Many civil society groups are applauding Zambia’s new course; yet they are also urging the government to implement the goals it has set itself for democratic reforms, respect of human rights and anti-corruption more quickly and comprehensively. The BMZ is supporting Zambia in its efforts to sustainably address its high public debt through improved financial management and mitigate the impact of climate change for poorer communities.
Addressing public debt: Zambia became insolvent two years ago. Right after the democratic presidential elections on 12 August 2021 the winner of the elections, President Hichilema, succeeded in negotiating a first agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). A support package by the IMF and the World Bank followed in mid-2022. A debt restructuring process has been launched under the G20 framework which also involves China as one of the main creditors. Private creditors are also involved. Germany is not one of Zambia’s bilateral creditors, but as a long-standing partner it also has a high interest in a positive economic development of the country. In order to enable Zambia to increase its revenues with a view to overcoming the debt crisis, the BMZ together with the EU and the USA is supporting reforms of the public financial management through, for instance, more efficient tax administration and transparent budget planning.
Climate change mitigation and adaptation: Zambia has also stepped up its engagement in climate policy. Most Zambians live from smallholder farming. They are hit especially hard when the yearly rainy season is less pronounced or fails completely which is happening more and more frequently. The BMZ is supporting farmers, especially in the dry south of Zambia, helping them adapt to the new climatic conditions. This work is based on innovative approaches. Small farmers are trained to work with rainwater harvesting, i.e. collecting the valuable resource carefully and using it even more effectively, for instance by applying water-saving farming methods.