21 July 2014

South Africa: Op-Ed - As the Brics Bank Takes Shape, Do We Really Understand the World Bank's Power?


There is an expression that goes: borrow R100,000 from the bank and the bank owns you; borrow R100 million from the bank and you own the bank. Sadly this adage has not been internalised by the developing world, which rarely musters the fight to truly confront and change the way the Bretton Woods institutions dominate international development discourse.

Part of the problem is a common misperception of how and why the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and related institutions so often appear to act primarily in the interested of the developed world. Critics of the World Bank and IMF argue these institutions promote a neo-liberal agenda that is enforced through an almost imperialist command of the management of these institutions. They argue that changing the management of the World Bank and IMF could dramatically change how they operate and what agendas they follow.

South Africa's leadership asserted at the ANC's 2012 Policy Conference that South Africa's "independent views and courage on the international and diplomatic stage have been acknowledged by many countries, their governments and political parties."* "The emergence of growing economic powers, especially China, India and Brazil, have a perspective that is informed by their...

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