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Business welcomes Paris Club pledges

[DRC] Militiamen await disarmament in a transit centre in Aru, 160 km north of Bunia, the main town in Ituri District, eastern DRC.
Militiamen await disarmament last Friday in a transit centre in Aru, 160 km north of Bunia, (IRIN)

Zambian business leaders welcomed as “positive” donor pledges of US $530 million in support of the government’s economic reform programme made at last week’s Paris Club meeting.

“We are very positive and optimistic,” Moses Banda, chairman of the Economic Association of Zambia told IRIN on Wednesday. “The only sticking point is that the pledges are linked to the sale of ZCCM [Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines],” the country’s largest employer.

The mining major Anglo-American, which owns a 27 percent stake in loss-making ZCCM, signed a memorandum of understanding in January for the purchase of the troubled state-owned company. An announcement is expected in July that Anglo is to go ahead with the deal in partnership with the Chilean copper producer Cadelco at a sale price of US $90 million and US $300 million in committed investment over three years. An Anglo delegation was reportedly in Paris to assure donors over the deal.

Aid disbursement was also linked to the government’s human rights record, in particular its treatment of the independent press. The donors reportedly demanded the repeal of sections of the penal code which restrict freedom of expression. Twelve journalists of ‘The Post’ newspaper are currently awaiting trial for espionage and face 20 year prison sentences.

The US $530 million earmarked for Zambia is split between balance of payments support and development programme funding.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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