By FRANCINA PHIRI
ZAMBIA has sent an official de’marche (diplomatic letter of protest) to the United States government requesting a retraction of a portion of a statement made by National Security Advisor John Bolton, claiming that China intends to repossess some State-Owned Enterprises because of Government’s failure to settle outstanding loans.
In a statement issued in Ethiopia yesterday, Foreign Affairs minister Joseph Malanji said Zambia did not wish to see it’s warm diplomatic relations with the US strained by misinformation.
In his statement during the unveiling the new US Policy on Africa in relation to China and Russia, National Security advisor John Bolton said Zambia owed China between $ 6 billion to $10 billion and is poised to lose its State utility company for China to recoup the debt.
Mr Malanji said the Zambian Government was disappointed that a statement lacking accurate information, could come from such a high ranking official.
He said Mr Bolton could have easily verified the information with the American Embassy in Lusaka.
“No State asset or State enterprise is at risk of being repossessed as they have not been used as collateral security,” said Mr Malanji.
He described Mr Bolton’s comments as misinformation that gave America’s foreign policy a bad name as Zambia had enjoyed cordial bilateral and multilateral relations with the US Government.
“Zambia does not wish to see its diplomatic ties strained as a result of misinformation,” Mr Malanji said.
Mr Malanji said the Government was optimistic that the American Embassy in Zambia would pass on the demarche to Washington DC as soon as possible.
This is according to a statement issued by First Secretary Press and Tourism Inutu Mwanza at the Zambian Embassy in Ethiopia.
Mr Malanji reiterated the Government’s position that no State assets were at risk of being taken over by China.
He said Zambia was not in a debt crisis and its debt ratio in relation to the country’s Gross Domestic Product was healthy.
He said the Government was managing its debt repayment ‘very well’ and had not defaulted in any of its repayment plans.
Mr Malanji said Zambia still enjoyed bilateral relations with more than 100 countries, including the US.
Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Zambia, Daniel Foote said in a statement yesterday, “While I have seen no evidence pointing toward a Zesco take-over, the White House referred to widespread reports and approaches the Chinese have already taken in other countries. Such
non-transparent contracting and debt acquisition impose unsustainable debt on recipients, fueling corruption and limiting the options for the citizens of recipient countries to determine their future.”