Advocacy for Sustainable Debt Management and Enhanced Oversight Mechanisms

Over the last decade, as Zambia’s debt has continued to grow, the ripple effect has been the shrinking fiscal space which has resulted in the country failing to meet the social sector demands of a growing population. Despite the foregoing, the government has embarked on an ambitious social spending plan that includes: the recruitment of 30,000 teachers and 11,200 health workers; the construction of 120 secondary schools; the abolishment of school fees for tuition and other fees learners pays in public schools and decentralised the provision for bursaries through the enhanced Constituency Development Fund (CDF). These new developments have necessitated a rethink in the approach to the management of public funds if these resources are to have the intended impact.

Further to this, there has been progressive legal reform to remedy the debt situation through the enactment of the Public Debt Management Act, 2022 to improve Zambia’s debt management by providing loan and debt contraction guidelines that align the legal framework to the constitution. This Act is important because it addresses the inherent weaknesses in the legal framework of public debt management.

Based on this background, CUTS in collaboration with the Open Society Foundation (OSISA) is implementing a two-year project that runs from 2021-2023, which seeks to highlight the inter-linkages that exist between Zambia’s debt situation and its ultimate impact on social sector spending.

This project intends to strengthen coordinated advocacy strategies among political parties, CSOs, rural communities, the media, and the youth while allowing for in-depth knowledge and awareness raising on social sector spending, debt oversight, sustainable debt management strategies as well as the opacity surrounding Zambia’s public debt.
This will reinforce the role that these stakeholders play to ensure that the legislation, policies, and their implementation delivers on efforts to reduce poverty, improve welfare and escalate the accumulation of human capital for the most vulnerable, in line with leaving no one behind.