Gordhan questions World Bank election process


Serious doubt exists about the transparency of the process in electing the next World Bank president, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday.

“From what I’ve heard there are serious concerns about the level of transparency,” Gordhan told the Foreign Correspondents Association in Johannesburg.

Directors of the World Bank will meet later in Washington DC, in the United States, on Monday to decide on the next president. The two candidates are Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the US candidate, Dr Jim Yong Kim, an Asian-American public health expert and head of Dartmouth University.

The third candidate — Jose Antonio Ocampo, Colombia’s former finance minister and a professor at New York’s Colombia University — withdrew last week.

South Africa, and the rest of Africa, supported Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy. However, it was widely expected that the US candidate would win. The US had always chosen the candidate since the World Bank was established in 1944. In turn, a European always headed the International Monetary Fund. This was the first time ever that there was a challenger.

Question the process
Gordhan said the World Bank had met one criteria of democracy in that anyone could nominate anybody. However, he questioned whether the process followed after that had been democratic and transparent.

“The invitation was open to anybody to nominate a candidate … the question is whether the process subsequent to that has followed through on the basis of democratic tenets.”

He questioned whether all candidates were given a chance to meet the position’s merit-based criteria.

“I think we’re going to find this process falls short of this criteria.”

Gordhan said the world would wait for the announcement to see whether the World Bank had “improved its legitimacy”.

“The world will be waiting to see whether the World Bank has improved its legitimacy, has broadened its base of participation in terms of candidates, to the extent to which established powers are willing to concede [power].”

Current president, Robert Zoellick (58) would leave the institution at the end of his five-year term in June. — Sapa

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