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Published on 6 July 2022

It always seems impossible until it’s done

In April this year we joined forces with Debt Justice (formerly the Jubilee Debt Campaign) and others. Thousands of you signed petitions protesting Blackrock’s refusal to reduce the interest rate or delay payments on Zambia’s debt - but all we’ve heard from Blackrock is a deafening silence.

This is the nature of campaigning - sometimes it takes longer to achieve change than we might hope, and it always seems impossible until it’s done. We only need to look back to the struggles of the past to see that things do change if we persevere.

The campaign to cancel the debt is critical to the partners and communities we work with – especially in Zambia right now.

If Zambia were to pay back all of its debts to private lenders in full, it would end up paying twice the amount it was lent, while Blackrock (Zambia’s largest private lender) would rake in profits of 110%. Already Zambia’s debt repayments are five times the country’s health spending. And rising fuel and food prices are making it even harder for Zambia and many other countries to pay. And so, we have no choice but to persevere.

Pressure is mounting (including from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) for Blackrock to negotiate with the Zambian government over its debt payments - some added pressure from us in the coming weeks may just push the company to come to the table.

Will you persevere?  

You can take action in two ways

  • Sign the Blackrock petition and share with your friends and family. We’ll make sure the company hears your call for action.
  • Write to your MP and ask them to raise the debt crisis in the UK Parliament?

The UK has a unique opportunity to address the global debt crisis as 90% of the loans made by private creditors to debtor countries are governed by UK law. We want MPs to call on the UK Government to introduce a new law that would require private lenders like Blackrock to take part in international debt relief processes.

Below you'll find a template letter that you can adapt and send or email to your MP 

Make sure you include this briefing from our friends at Debt Justice – that explains the debt crisis and why this new law is needed 

MP briefing

Template letter/email to send to your MP

Please feel free to adapt it as you see fit

Subject line: The Global Debt Crisis

Dear [insert name of MP],

Fifty-four countries are in debt crisis globally, up from 31 in 2018. The economic stress of the last few years has pushed more and more countries into debt.

In 2020 the G20 responded by setting up a new process for debt cancellation called The Common Framework. Zambia is one of the first countries to go through this process, but progress is being blocked by the refusal of their biggest bondholder, BlackRock, to cancel any of their debt. If paid in full the asset manager could make up to 110% profit on Zambia’s debt.

If Zambia fails to get debt cancellation through this process, then other countries are less likely to apply. This will mean debts will continue to pile up globally. More and more countries will be forced to cut vital public services like healthcare and education to pay large amounts of interest to rich lenders. You can read more in this briefing

All of Zambia’s bonds, like many lower income countries, are governed by UK law.

I’d like to ask you as my MP to raise this issue in parliament and put pressure on BlackRock to cancel Zambia’s debt:

- Write to the Chancellor calling for legislation to require lenders such as BlackRock to take part in internationally agreed debt relief

- Ask a question in parliament about what the government is doing to put pressure on BlackRock

- Let me know what action you have taken.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

[Insert your name and contact details]