By Lovemore Khomo
A group of Country Directors for ActionAid in Africa have called World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to end debt stress and austerity policies imposed on African countries to ensure that they grow and not continue to suffer.
The call comes when IMF and World Bank are holding 2023 annual meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.
ActionAid has proposed for the cancellation of all African countries’ debts and support ambitious and progressive tax reforms in these countries.
During the World Bank and IMF meetings ActionAid issued a report titled, “Fifty Years of Failure: The IMF, Debt and Austerity in Africa” which point out that little has changed since structural adjustment programmes in the 1980s were widely agreed to have led to a ‘lost decade’.
The report explained that the IMF continues to adhere to the cult of austerity despite mounting evidence that it has stifled economic development and human development across Africa. Despite warnings within the IMF’s African regional outlook in April to ensure ‘important efforts to tackle climate change do not crowd out financing for basic needs like health and education’.
In an interview with Malawi Voice from Marrakech in Morocco, International Program Manager for Young Urban Women – Life Choices and Livelihoods Programme at ActionAid Global Secretariat, Chikumbutso Ngosi elaborated that they have embarked on advocating for change within IMF and World Bank given the multiplicity and complexity of the on-going global challenges, including climate change and the cost of living crisis.
Ngosi noted that the global south countries needs to find system solutions to debt and address expenditure obstacles on public services including health, education and climate change.
“It becomes important to address our concerns during these meetings on how IMF has negatively impacted African countries through Austerity based advice and loan programmes.” She said
She added that they will continue resisting neoliberal tenents of austerity, privatisation of public services as a short-term strategy, and ensure the global financial architecture is overhauled and equipped to address global needs as long-term strategy for pushing their agenda to ensure changes are made.
“It is important to understand that current issues be it imposing of regressive loan conditions such as Austerity to African countries is a reflection of the coloniality of the IMF and World Bank as the two institutions were created before most African countries were independent and have a governance and decision-making system unchanged” explained Ngosi.
She cited the voting structures which has remain largely unaltered and African countries still have very little say in decision-making in the World bank and IMF with less than 10% percent vote share in the IMF board while the block of all countries represented by EU and US countries on executive board together control 53% of the votes.
“Sub-sahara African countries are represented by only two Executive Directors, which means decisions affecting the life and millions of people are made by the powerful few. It is therefore important for African countries to challenge and interrogate issue of structural under-representation of global south in economic decision-making, which has maintained unfair global power relations rooted in colonial legacy” She said.
According to ActionAid, globally six billion people are now facing austerity, largely owing to the IMF’s reluctance to accept that its economic model has failed.