LUSAKA, Dec 17 (Reuters) – Zambia President Edgar Lungu said on Thursday the state must assume a significant stake in selected mines to benefit the country beyond taxes.

“I must mention that this is not nationalisation,” Lungu said as he launched an economic recovery plan, adding that private investors would be allowed to operate freely.

The southern African nation, a major copper producer, became Africa’s first pandemic-era sovereign default last month after it failed to pay a coupon on one of its dollar-denominated bonds. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Writing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Alex Richardson) -Reuters

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