LONDON—Archbishop Medardo Mazombwe of Lusaka said last week that external debts are a greater killer of people than war in Africa and urged the Church and all people of good will in Britain to
speak for the poor by supporting the Jubilee 2000 campaign for debt cancellation, writes Antoine Lokongo.
In a press briefing at Archbishop's House, Westminster, the Zambian arch bishop said that the burden of external debts is ethically untenable because it destabilises all levels of life of African people.
"The debt problem is not simply an economic issue," he said. "It is funda mentally an ethical issue because it is radically a human problem, affecting the well-being of families, the survival of the poor, the bonds of community and the security of the future."
The archbishop cautioned those who believed that debt relief can come from a significantly redesigned World Bank and the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative for debt relief.
He said: "The HIPC initiative in principle reflects the 'social sustainability' approach — argued by CAFOD and Oxfam —and attempts to assure that debt servicing does not place additional burden on impoverished people by depriving them of the basic necessity of food, clean water, health care, education, shelter. But in reality it is simply too little, too late, and too rigid and must therefore be rejected outright."
However, Archbishop Mazombwe recognised that the many debt relief packages, offered by lending countries, especially the G8 countries during their June summit in Cologne, represented an opportunity for campaigners to take advantage of this momentum and build up pressure for equitable debt relief.
The archbishop said that the Jubilee 2000 campaign's biblically inspired and economically sound approach is one of the most effective pressures building worldwide for outright debt cancellation by the year 2000.
He said: "African people are deeply wounded and theirs is a fractured community, resulting from slavery, colonialism, civil wars, ideological manipulations, corruption and above all the unsustainable and unpayable international debts whose outright cancellation will give them a new chance to start into the new millennium."
Archbishop Mazombwe visited Britain to give the 1999 Pope Paul VI CAFOD Memorial Lecture at the Metropolitan Cathedral Crypt in Liverpool and the Westminster Cathedral Hall in London.— Photo: Carlos Reyes-Manzo.