Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday lashed out at the “selfish” West for denying Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala the opportunity to head the World Bank.
Okonjo-Iweala, a respected economist, last month lost the World Bank president post to Korean-American Jim Young Kim, in a first-ever challenge to US domination of the job.
“We were very saddened that you didn't make it,” Mugabe told a women's conference in Harare, which the Nigerian minister was attending.
“You know the Europeans are very selfish, they want to retain power in these bodies.
“The World Bank, no African can head it. The IMF, no African can head it. So it will take us time to be equal,” said Mugabe.
Under a tacit agreement since the Bretton Woods institutions were founded nearly 70 years ago, the United States has always picked one of its citizens for the helm of the World Bank while Europe has held control of who leads the International Monetary Fund.
The US nominee faced a challenge for the first time in 66 years from two strong developing country candidates.
Okonjo-Iweala meanwhile said her candidacy for the World Bank president has proven that developing countries can lead global institutions.
“I think they (World Bank) have absolutely no choice, they have to evolve,” she said.
“It was a game changer that we cannot have the same processes that have gone on for 60 years going on in future, therefore I am confident that going forward there will be a more level playing field, more competition will be allowed.”
Meanwhile, UN rights chief Navi Pillay, who is on a five day visit to Zimbabwe, also attended the conference.
“The lack of respect for women's rights remain entrenched in our society,” she said.
“In sub-Saharan Africa alone young women 15-24 years are as much as eight times more likely than men to be living with HIV,” noted Pillay, calling on countries to address the problem. - Sapa-AFP