Zambia’s new president has instructed the BBC that he has inherited an “empty” treasury, whereas “horrifying” quantities of cash had been stolen.
“Persons are nonetheless making an attempt to make last-minute actions of funds, that are unauthorised, which aren’t theirs,” President Hakainde Hichilema mentioned.
He defeated his rival Edgar Lungu in presidential elections final month.
Mr Hichilema didn’t title any officers. Mr Lungu has beforehand denied all wrongdoing
The BBC has approached his celebration for remark.
Mr Lungu ruled the copper-rich nation since 2015. He was broadly praised for the graceful transition of energy to Mr Hichilema, who received the presidency after 5 failed makes an attempt.
Full debt ‘not disclosed’
Mr Hichilema received the election on a promise to sort out corruption, and to finish the monetary and financial disaster that has seen Zambia’s debt ballooning.
For the primary time since 1998, Zambia plunged right into a recession final yr. It additionally defaulted on a debt compensation.
Within the BBC interview, the brand new president described the treasury as “actually empty”.
He added that the “gap is far greater than we anticipated” and the debt state of affairs had not been “absolutely disclosed” by the previous authorities.
“There’s a whole lot of harm, sadly,” Mr Hichilema mentioned.
He added that his authorities would present “zero tolerance” in the direction of corruption, and would unravel what he referred to as the illicit motion of funds very quickly.
“I don’t wish to pre-empt issues however what we’re selecting [up] is horrifying,” the president mentioned.
“You’ll really feel no person can do a factor like that however it’s being achieved. Folks have achieved it. They’re nonetheless making an attempt to do issues now.”
Mr Hichilema additionally mentioned there have been “lots of people who will not be working, however are on the payroll” of the federal government.
Mr Hichilema has appointed economist and former Worldwide Financial Fund (IMF) adviser Situmbeko Musokotwane as finance minister.
“Until we do one thing to the funds, then the funds might be primarily for paying salaries and in addition servicing debt,” Mr Musokotwane was quoted by Reuters information company as saying quickly after his appointment.
Zambia owed international lenders an estimated $12bn (£8.6bn), earlier stories mentioned.
It spends a minimum of 30% of its income on curiosity funds, in keeping with credit score scores agency S&P International.
Final yr, Zambia missed an curiosity compensation, making it the primary African nation to default on a mortgage through the pandemic.
It’s also dealing with difficulties repaying different loans.
The previous authorities had borrowed closely – together with from China – to construct infrastructure.
Mr Hichilema mentioned the federal government was dedicated to restoring its credibility amongst lenders.
The federal government would enter into talks with China, which he was assured would “perceive that we’ve inherited a really troublesome state of affairs”, the president mentioned.
The Worldwide Labour Group (ILO) estimates that unemployment rose to greater than 12% in 2020 – the very best since 2011.
The promise to create jobs for younger Zambians was one other key motive behind his election victory.