We must examine candidates’ track record on rejecting the Washington Consensus

Below is a guest post from Vitalice Meja, Coordinator of Reality of Aid Africa Network.

The current debate on the next president to the World Bank is as interesting as it is puzzling. While for the first time there seems an opportunity for a candidate from a developing country to take over, the debate seems to focus around supporting individuals rather than their credentials on development agenda and transformation.

World Bank is a global institution and leading it requires a President who has an acumen to address the challenges that affect the world in a very pragmatic and dynamic manner. Such a candidate should not be limited by the failed ideological formations that have underpinned the institution of the World Bank.

For those in the developing world especially Africa, certain elements are paramount in deciding the right president for the bank. These include the following

1. That the next President should respond practically to the problems facing Africa – Africa has set itself as the next global growth pole, in this regard, it has identified the need for stronger development state, the need for heavy infrastructural, development, development of human capital, investment in agriculture and industrial revolution are the main ingredient for a competitive advantage. All the foregoing will need massive state intervention this is not consistent with Washington consensus

2. The citizens of the continent continue to demand and rightfully so access to energy, free water, free education and health and sustainable employment.

Tackling these issues together with other issues from around the world, will require someone with experience and expertise in steering not only in managerial skills but able to adapt the banks programs to address these challenges in a manner that is not only contextual to the needs of its members states in Africa but also able to shake off the Washington consensus demands of the Bank.

The candidate therefore must be able to show merit and comptence to be able to navigate the terrain and address the development needs of the continent as these are there key mandate.

Having made these observations, I have reservations about the current crop of candidates being propped up. The debate around them has been about their gender, and regions of origin and of course a bit about their technical credentials. These are important! But should not be the only one. Coming from a region where rewarding tribalism, and nepotism has had negative impact on development, I find it difficult to back any of the candidates just because they are from the developing world or region.

We must be examine these individuals in the context of their history, their expertise and track record on tackling problems that directly affect the poor, and create enabling environment for the marginalised to engage in sustainable livelihood production as well as sustainable employment. They indeed must show us their track record on how they have created policy space for their countries or their region to address the development needs of their people. I don’t think that this time round we should be looking to candidates who have experience and expertise in implementing the Washington consensus and have been excellent at it.

We must however be aware that selecting a good candidate in itself will not be sufficient bring about the fundamental change required in both at the management and operational aspects of the World Bank. As CSOs we must be careful to jump onto any bandwagon of any candidate lest we ask ourselves, what have done when things go wrong. We must continue to demand for a more transparent selection process of the World Bank President, reformed governance structure, and overhauled operational theoretical framework.

4 thoughts on “We must examine candidates’ track record on rejecting the Washington Consensus

  1. It appears, some people anchor their choice of world bank president basically on academic qualification. I think what matters most should be one’s cultural background. A person from a background that has no developmental culture in terms of infrastructure, social services and improving the well-being of humans should not be expected to perform magic in a global setting, whose objective is development for the good of human beings.

  2. The selection process is what it is, this time.

    Vitalice Meja makes a good point not to be swayed by gender, passport or who’s jumping on whose bandwagon. What matters is the vision the candidate selected brings to the job, how Robert Zoellick’s successor works with stakeholders to deliver on that vision, and how the stakeholders mobilize and sustain the owners’ support and funding for a refashioned World Bank Group.

    The Washington Consensus is dead, as are “SAPs”. They died not because any of the candidates wielded the gun, or because the CSOs did, but because other, more effective methods to promote growth and reduce poverty emerged as countries experimented–with Bank, IMF and donor partners’ help–and learned from each other.

    Let’s move forward.

  3. I am not that sure that fighting a Washington Consensus, whatever it really meant, is any longer so relevant… especially when the world is facing now one of the largest crises ever, which has resulted entirely from bad bank regulations, and which had of course nothing to do with said consensus.

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