Friday, April 20, 2012

The Weekly Sneak: Namechecking Trevor Manuel

Alright, so how many of you reading this know what the Bretton Woods Institutions are, why they exist and how they operate? Because I have to confess, if it hadn't been for the news about the World Bank Chief selection process I would have continued to blissfully ignore them as peripheral to my life, hey. But it's a big story, and why not talk about some of the never-mentioned geopolitical, gendered and racially-tinged power dynamics behind some of our most visible international institutions? Coming to an East African near you:
"It does make one consider: two Finance Ministers from countries with experience in poverty and its economics were turned down in favor of a public health expert in HIV and Tuberculosis. Apparently, there is a “silent” agreement whereby Europe gets to head the IMF and America gets the World Bank. Considering this “silent” arrangement is an open secret, I supposed it was only a matter of time before countries most heavily subjected to these organizations' activities got restless about the institutions' governance, transparency and democratic selection processes."
I have heard it being bandied about, the notion that this is Africa's century et cetera. I am adopting an optimistic wait-and-see approach to this, but it doesn't mean I won't stick my oar into discussion of power from time to time. It's not my most politically-correct article, I must admit. Also, I had to find a way to work in Trevor Manuel. Because.

Speaking of getting rudely honest about things, last week's article about Steven Kanumba was a major throw of the dice. It is one thing to throw barbs at politicians however beloved they are, this is a time-honored tradition. It is another thing entirely to "attack" popular Tanzanians. I experienced the same dilemma around the time of Kikombe Cha Babu- bell the cat, or stay quiet and be a "good" Tanzanian? I had no choice in the end, I would have lost the respect of my inner activist if I hadn't said anything in defense of Lulu, Kanumba's underage "friend" and alleged murderer. Turns out this generated more responses than any article has in months. Peace.


  1. And in a follow up to this, you may want to explore why it is a doctor is selected to head the World Bank and a banker is now managing the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria!!

  2. I too, had hoped for a more fair, relevant and representative World Bank Director, someone who is tough yet open; experienced yet nimble...

  3. This blogger sounds very much like some of the political bloggers we read in America, except from an African perspective. It is interesting to get a different view of things. When we look at the Bretton Woods Institutions, specifically the World Bank and the IMF, we naturally look at it from America's perspective as a major lending nation. However, much of the criticism of the World Bank and the IMF concern the ‘conditionalities’ imposed on borrower countries, Africa being one of them. As a lender, we may feel that the borrower should just be happy with the funds we give them access to, however conditions attached to loans may not always take into account the borrowing countries’ individual circumstances. This mind set might also lead to appointments being made in a vacuum by the funding countries. I can see how there may be resentment of such power. The blogger sounds like someone who is anti-establishment and not afraid to voice displeasure with things. There is a reference in the blog to Trevor Manuel who is a long time and I believe, well-respected government official in Africa. I believe the link to Manuel comes from the blogger saying "it doesn't mean I won't stick my oar into discussion of power from time to time". It is a reference to a famous quote made by Manual to Parliament when he said "Bring me a big wooden spoon and let me stir some trouble". It looks like internet blogging can be effective in all countries.

  4. @ Kristen003- absolutely fascinating commentary, thanks for the insights. 'this blogger' loved the use of the third person :)

  5. @Micheline: experienced yet nimble? I am going to have to steal that. It is the perfect description of leadership skills necessary to complex and delicate appointments.


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