WSF (1997): “IMF and World Bank: Get out of Africa!”
From Workers Solidarity, magazine of the Workers Solidarity Federation, volume 3, number 1, first quarter 1997. Complete PDF is here
The IMF is dominated by the main imperialist powers (USA, West Europe, and Japan). These countries have more than half all votes.
Politically, the IMF and World Bank have always supported right-wing Third World governments. For example, the IMF lent the Apartheid regime $1 billion after the crushing of the 1976 revolt.
Economically, the IMF and World Bank promote the colonially-derived world division of labour in which most Third World countries export raw materials (e.g. iron) and import manufactured products (e.g. machines). This system of exporting raw materials to a few giant monopoly companies who rig prices results in a systematic outflow of wealth from poor countries. Reliance on exporting crops increases hunger and environmental destruction (because more land is given over to growing coffee etc.). The IMF and World Bank promote the interests of exploitative multi-national companies like Shell by promoting free market policies that allow money and goods to move freely across borders ,and undermine worker rights. They enforce repayment of unjust Third World debt.
The IMF and World Bank reach their aims in two ways. First, they promote the free market ideology that opposes any restrictions on capitalism. Second, they insist that poor countries using their loans implement free market policies (called “adjustment”). Not only is “adjustment” pro-imperialist, but it has led to massive cuts in real wages, public sector jobs and social services like health.
These anti-worker conditions are agreed upon by unaccountable local ruling classes whose greed, combined with the negative effects of imperialism, has left many Third World countries poorer than ever- and thus more desperate for loans than before.
The IMF and World Bank play a low-key but crucial role in South Africa. So far the IMF and World Bank have
- promoted VAT in 1991
- convinced the ANC to adopt a fake land reform programme that relies on the market (see Workers Solidarity vol.2, No.2).
- helped write the anti-worker GEAR policies, praised by the IMF head as “exactly right” (see earlier article)