Campaigners call for justice on apartheid induced debt

Lusaka- Zambia (PANA) -- Campaign groups from Europe and Southern Africa are to issue a demand Thursday that specifically calls for the cancellation of debts incurred by countries close to South Africa over their fight against the apartheid regime.
The Jesuit Centre for Theological Research in Lusaka said on Wednesday in a statement embargoed for Thursday that the demand will be presented at the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa.
The campaigners for the cancellation of debts incurred by Southern African states during their fight against racism and apartheid released a report Wednesday that shows that states that took part in the struggle against apartheid are still paying a heavy price through unsustainable debt.
According to this report, Zambia could have incurred debts amounting to 5.
3 billion US dollars as a result of its involvement in the de-colonisation of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
Much of this debt arises from the economic sabotage and the destruction of key infrastructure in repeated military incursions, particularly by the South African national defence force.
Futhermore, "billions of dollars of trade losses" are estimated to have been incurred from sanctions against apartheid South Africa, its counter-sanctions, and the need to build alternative trade routes, such as the rail link via distant Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania.
Other debts are said to have been incurred from the hosting of thousands of refugees as well as from the extra defence expenditures into which Zambia was forced to participate.
The report estimates that in spite of having qualified for debt relief under the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's heavily indebted poor countries scheme in 1990, Zambia's debt repayments are actually set to rise from average annual payments of 141.
5 million dollars in 1998-99 to 174 million dollars in 2001-2005.
This is because repayments became due for a 1992/3 IMF loan of 2.
2 billion dollars given to help Zambia repay old debts.
Charity Musamba of Jubilee 2000, one of the organisations campaigning for debt relief for Zambia, said Wednesday: "The people of Zambia fought long and hard to end apartheid.
Now they are having to fight for their basic rights to health and education while their government struggles to repay apartheid- caused debts.
" Also in the campaign for review of apartheid era debts is the South African movement, Jubilee South Africa, whose activist Neville Gabriel is being quoted as saying it would be unfortunate for creditors to ignore the opportunity to make reparations.
Also in the campaign is Action for Southern Africa based in Europe.
Representatives of these various groups have already travelled to Durban where the World Conference against Racism gets underway on Friday.

29 august 2001 17:53:00

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