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Germany bemoans Zambia’s shrinking democratic space

THE German government has expressed concern at Zambia’s shrinking democratic space ahead of the 2021 general elections.

In a joint press statement signed by Secretary to the Treasury Fredson Yamba and division for Southern Africa and head of German delegation Alois Schneider in Lusaka on the Zambia-Germany bilateral negotiation on development cooperation, Schneider highlighted the importance of protecting freedom of expression and assembly in the run-up to the 2021 elections.

The Zambian government and Germany on Wednesday successfully concluded negotiations on development cooperation partnership for promoting good governance, transparency and better service delivery.

Germany has committed over 46 million euros to Zambia aimed at promoting citizens’ participation, transparency, access to justice, decentralisation, food security and nutrition, water and sanitation.

According to a statement, the two countries reflected on future development cooperation programmes as well as policy issues in a constructive and cordial atmosphere.

“As Germany expressed concerns about shrinking democratic space and highlighted the importance of protecting freedom of expression and assembly in the run-up to the 2021 elections, both sides reaffirmed the importance of good governance and the promotion and preservation of democracy and fundamental human rights. Germany highlighted its zero-tolerance approach to corruption, with a view to all development programming and beyond,” reads the statement. “The Zambian government stressed its commitment to address corruption in all its forms and to implement public financial management reforms. It was agreed that all Zambian-Germany programmes would focus on strengthening accountability and transparency for better service delivery for citizens.”

Germany also agreed to Zambia’s request to provide technical assistance with regard to the new Zambian anti-corruption policy.

“During the 2020 negotiations, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany committed €46.8 million (approximately K1.2 billion) to the Republic of Zambia covering the years 2021-2022. These funds aim at promoting citizens’ participation, transparency, access to justice, decentralisation, food security and nutrition as well as improving access to water and sanitation. A focus lies on promoting the Zambian decentralisation process and strengthening local authorities in Southern and Luapula provinces in order to provide better services in line with citizens’ needs,” reads the statement. “Additional funds of €91.85 million had already been committed since the last negotiation in 2018, adding to the above-mentioned sum. This allowed a quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic (€28.75 million), the 2019 drought (€9 million) and to support nutrition, agricultural development and renewable energies. Germany bilateral commitments are currently being provided exclusively via grants.”

Both countries reiterated the need for returning to debt sustainability while safeguarding social spending for the most vulnerable.

The parties agreed that formalising a strong cooperation with the IMF and reaching a comprehensive negotiated agreement with all its bilateral official and private creditors in line with the G20 framework were of highest importance.

They concurred that as funds are scarce, “it was even more important to make wise and efficient use of the available resources”.

The Zambian delegation assured the Germany delegation that the public finance management Act would be consistently applied to prevent misuse of funds and that those that would abrogate the act would be punished in line with its provisions.

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