Where does the IMF and the World Bank’s money come from? Who can name a single country which has developed on the basis of the IMF and World Bank handouts?
Antoine Roger Lokongo, 7.04.2006
I had the opportunity to take part in a conference organised by the Royal African Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) on 6.04.2006
Mark Plant, senior advisor, IMF Policy Department and Review Department, was the main speaker. He talked about Africa’s debt, the G8 and the IMF.
I heard him saying that most of the loans that are forgiven today were contracted by developing countries during the Cold War; and since the Cold War is over, they ought to be cancelled.
I started by saying that Laurent Désiré Kabila was right after all! When coming to power in 1997, he refused to pay all the debts that Mobutu contracted during the Cold War then (the IMF and the World Bank used to literally beg Mobutu, their staunch Cold War ally in Central Africa, to borrow the money and Mobutu put it in his accounts in Swiss Banks and became rich).
Then they said to him, if you don’t pay we will not give you any loans, and where will you find the money to rebuild the country?
Kabila said: “We will find the money. Tell me who refuses to buy our gold, our diamond, our cobalt…?”
I said that among the 14 sub-saharan countries that have benefited from debt relief contracted before 2005 (before being given new loans) some of them are rogue states, such as Rwanda and Ouganda, who saw their debts forgiven under the HIPC initiative, right when they were invading and occupying Congo, killing 5 million people and looting Congo’s natural and mineral resources. By forgiving their debts, I said, their hands were freed to use new loans to buy more guns and to violate the sovereignty of a neighbouring state, or, let’s say, they were simply given revolving funds and arms by well known superpowers and multinationals who shared the dividends which came in kinds (gold, diamond, coltan, timbers…).
Mark Plant assured me that the Democratic Republic of Congo is soon going to qualify for total debt cancellation.
Mr Plant who had earlier said that Soudan’s debt has not been forgiven because the Sudanese government was responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfour (these are moral grounds), replied to me that the IMF and the World Bank do not make their decisions or devise their policies on the basis of moral grounds.
“We are immoral, as simple as that. We don’t act on moral grounds. What matters to us is a country’s sound economic management and performance, implementing the Bank’s structural adjustment programs. If a country has an efficient economic management, we don’t care about the morality of its troops invading, looting or killing in neighbouring countries. We leave moral questions to be dealt by politicians”.
OK! We have heard it from the horse’s own mouth. Morality and respect for international law do not come into equation here.
I asked him whether “poor countries” had the right to defend their sovereignty (as Zimbabwe is doing) against IMF and World Bank structural adjustment programmmes if they were perceived as an interference? Or whether the USA had the strongest influence over the IMF and the World Bank, especially now that, like during the Cold War, the measuring rod for assessing whether a country was a good pupil of the IMF and the World Bank depends on “whether they were with the USA or against the USA in the war of terror” as President Bush put it. And the World Bank is now headed by Paul Wolfowitz, who comes straight from the inner circle of the Bush administration. Are we allowed to deduce that, in the decades to come, countries which are being lent money now will be forgiven their debts when the war on terror will be over?
“Yes,” he said, “the USA has a strong influence over the IMF and World Bank’s decisions and policies, so does other powers. But sometimes at the IMF we can dare veto some of US policies. The USA does not succeed in imposing all its policies on us.”
The question now remains: “Where does the IMF and the World Bank’s money come from?” Has Africa’s wealth not been looted by the West for centuries and now being loaned back to Africans?
A day before the SOAS conference, the Libyan leader Mouammar Kadhafi called on African countries to claim compensations from their former colonial powers.
Addressing the National Assembly of Senegal in Dakar, Kadhafi whose relationship with the West is now in good terms, since he abandoned the idea of making weapons of mass destruction and agreed to pay compensation to the families of the Lockerbie plane crush victims, said: “We don’t want hand outs, we are not stretching our hand. We are not beggars. We simply want them to return what they have stolen from us, our diamond, our gold, our manganese…among other wealth.”
Kadhafi also called upon former colonial powers to apologise for all the prejudices they have caused on former colonies.
What Kadhafi is advocating for a big challenge to the IMF, to the World Bank and to the West in this century.
Back to top