African Sovereign Debt Justice Network (AfSDJN)

The African Sovereign Debt Justice Network, (AfSDJN), is a coalition of citizens, scholars, civil society actors and church groups committed to exposing the adverse impact of unsustainable levels of African sovereign debt on the lives of ordinary citizens.

Convened by Afronomicslaw.org with the support of Open Society for Southern Africa, (OSISA), the AfSDJN's activities are tailored around addressing the threats that sovereign debt poses for economic development, social cohesion and human rights in Africa. It advocates for debt cancellation, rescheduling and restructuring as well as increasing the accountability and responsibility of lenders and African governments about how sovereign debt is procured, spent and repaid.  

Focusing in particular on Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria and Senegal, the AfSDJN will also amplify African voices and decolonize narratives on African sovereign debt . Its activities include producing research outputs to enhance the network’s advocacy interventions. It also seeks to create awareness on and elevate the priority given to sovereign debt and other economic justice issues on the African continent and beyond throughout 2021. 

Staying Claims: Debt Moratoria Beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative

We recognise that the current proposal is limited in resolving the longer-term debt burden of developing countries. The stay of enforcement does not introduce any changes in the substantive obligations contracted by the parties. Thus, the standstill will only temporarily suspend the execution and enforcement of eligible financial obligations during the designated period. Meanwhile, interest on the principal will continue to accrue. The proposal is also meant to be used as a ‘shield’ rather than a ‘sword’, i.e. the stay will only be triggered as a defence by the sovereign debtor in the event of a claim against it by a private creditor.

Prudent Debt Management and Lessons from the Mozambique Constitutional Council

August 5, 2020

About eight years ago, the government of Mozambique formed two companies, Proindicus and the Mozambique Asset Management. These two companies entered into loan agreements, valued at approximately $2.2 billion, with creditors including Credit Suisse and VBT Bank. Even though these debts were obligations of the state, some of these debts were hidden from the Mozambique parliament and public. Their existence was exposed in 2016 and precipitated a debt crisis in the country.

How Public Interest Litigation Led to Invalidation of Illegal Mozambican Debt

The Mozambican case of odious debt is an illustration of several similar cases around the world whereby consultants from multinational corporations identify development countries with something of value, such as minerals, and persuade the authorities of these countries to secretly take on huge development loans with banks. In most cases, the money never reaches the countries. Rather, the money is transferred directly from the banks to contractors and the countries are then left with massive debts. Resources and companies from developing countries are given as collaterals for these loans. Therefore, the resources that countries should use to invest in development are transferred to service these odious debts. In summary, this is what happened in Mozambique.

Introduction: Sovereign Debt Under Domestic and Foreign Law: Lessons from the Mozambique Constitutional Council Decision of May 8, 2020

On May 8, 2020, the Mozambique Constitutional Council decided that non-concessional loans totaling 622 million USD borrowed from two London-based banks – Credit Suisse and Russian VTB - was illegal, null and void. The Mozambican borrowers were three State Owned Enterprises that at the time did not been formally constituted. The basis of the Constitutional Council’s decision was that this loan was obtained without approval of Parliament. Further, the Council held that amount was in excess of the borrowing limit permissible under the Constitution and laws of Mozambique.

Integral Ecology and Taxation: Catholic Social Teaching Pushing the Frontiers of Social Contract Theory in the Post-Pandemic Era

Our ethical conundrum as we think about issues of global distributive justice in the post-pandemic era is that social contract theory fails to provide an adequate framework for conceptualizing duties and obligations of international organizations to individuals, as opposed simply to their member states. The tension comes from the fact that people intuitively have a sense of justice which is offended by the manner in which power is wielded by those at the helm of the global financial order to place the interests of international organizations, banks, and multinational corporations over and above those of individual human beings, particularly those at the margins of the world economy.

COVID-19 and Governance in Zimbabwe

Since the early 2000s, Zimbabwe has faced a tumultuous period which has seen the country go through dislocating economic challenges. These economic challenges have harmed the country’s institutions with the health sector suffering the most. Several outbreaks such as the 2008 Cholera Outbreak clearly demonstrated that the country’s health sector had all but collapsed. That has not been very different for Zimbabwe’s politics that have been dominated by two political parties Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU PF) and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) who serve as the ruling party and the opposition respectively.  

Sovereign Debt and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 crisis is likely to make countries in the global south accumulate more debt in a global economic environment where repayment of current debt will be difficult. The speech by Thomas Sankara on the morality of debt repayment asks us very difficult questions which humanity must collectively confront if debt crises are to become relics of past economics. The collective inability by the global south to assert itself on negotiating tables and to recreate itself in the aftermath of various global crises has been a sad misuse of crises.

PanDEBTmic – Potential Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Kenya

As the Covid-19 disrupts life as we know it globally and nationally, it will test to the core the ability of the state to defend its citizens from experiencing the most holistic crisis we have ever faced as a country. Kenya has lived through curfews, food shortages, economic difficulties but all at different stages and periods. With growth prospects reduced, lower than expected tax revenues, and Kenya’s debt to GDP levels is already in the doldrums.

Doves, Vultures and African Debt in the Time of COVID-19

To mitigate the risk of speculation, I have proposed  that the international community should create a Debts of Vulnerable Economies Fund (a “DOVE” fund) to help African countries deal with their private sector debt. The fund could be created by an African institution such as the African Development Bank or the African Union. The fund should be financed by governments, foundations, financial institutions, companies and individuals. In order to demonstrate its independence from both debtor countries and creditor institutions it should be managed by an independent board representing all stakeholders.