African Leaders and World Bank Connived: $43 Billion Interest Paid for $5 Billion Loan



By J. Yanqui Zaza



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 1, 2004

The news report that the World Bank is siphoning billion of dollars from poor countries is alarming. It is disquieting politically and economically, especially for Liberia, because come 2005, voters might end up selecting a president who wishes to be or has been a business partner to the agents of the World Bank. Worst of all, it could be a person who does not have the required elementary knowledge and understanding of the complex thread of networking of multinational institutions that guarantees the continued economic exploitation of African countries.

The World Bank, a not-for profit money-lending institution, was created in 1944 to assist poor countries, many of which are African countries. It should help leaders of poor countries in refraining from undertaking ambitious national development projects, reducing the costs of programs, and directing resources to improve the welfare of their citizens. Accordingly, if the report is true, the World Bank is now competing with and, or collaborating with corrupt local bureaucrats in diverting resources away from education and health care programs into the pockets of shareholders and bureaucrats.

On October 1, 2004, The New York Times, in its editorial, stated that, “One of the biggest reasons that very poor countries can’t provide decent education and health care is that they are stuck in a cycle of debt owed to the World Bank…” The report added that “Everyone involved agrees that this is unjust…” that is “for most countries to pay back in interest more than they originally borrowed…” The editorial said that, “Nigeria, for example, borrowed $5 billion, has paid back $16 billion, and still owes $32 billion on the same Debt.”

Liberia’s cycle of debt (i.e., from $.551 b in 1980 to $2.5 b in 1999), economic disparity among other factors during the 150 plus years of independence bred the civil war. One does not have to visit Claratown, Dupo Road, Bussy Quarter, or Greater Monrovia, as I did few weeks ago, to agree with the findings of The New York Times that agents of the World Bank and local bureaucrats pocketed the monies. Frankly, I am convinced by what I saw that another round of civil war is being bred. The young people, unskilled and unemployed, are bitterly disenchanted with the appalling circumstances of their lives in comparison to the profligate life styles of government officials and their families. As a result, they do not feel connected to the society nor imagine themselves becoming stakeholders. Hence they usually resort to protest, and often, violently as we have heard, or witnessed recently.

How come agents of the World Bank, apparently due to the interest of its shareholders, find it convenient giving huge loan to dictators, who usually use the money for everything, but education, health care, and infrastructural development? Theoretically, the C.I.A. is different from the World Bank. However, the two institutions have common interest pertaining to the selection of a leader of a poor country who will or will not allow corporations to make unscrupulous profits. It is common sense that organizations wishing to make super profits always support a candidate who will create an environment conducive for making such profits. As in the United States, labour unions support the Democratic Party for government protection while big business support the Republican Party for government resources and the suppression of labour rights.

Some prominent Liberians say voters should elect leaders who can reject ill-advised recommendations from agents of big business. Before competing views on voters’ role in election carry us away from the focus of this article, let me share with you the views of those who criticize big business. They assert that it was not a coincident that poor countries accumulated the huge debts during the 70’s and 80’s when military dictators ruled those poor countries. In addition, they say that the shareholders of the World Bank, mainly USA, Britain, Canada, and France, covertly and, sometimes, overtly sponsor candidates without organizational support against the wishes of the voters.

Members of Eclipse Enterprises, in an article written in 1991, share the views of some former agents of the C.I.A. that, “many of the world’s most repressive dictators have been friends of America. Tyrants, torturers, killers, and sundry dictators and corrupt puppet-presidents have been aided, supported, and rewarded handsomely for their loyalty to US interest. Traditional dictators seize control through force, while constitutional dictators hold office through voting fraud…”
In the case of Liberia, the United States, the World Bank, and their affiliates rewarded president William V.S. Tubman with aid and kept him in power for 27 years for silencing opposition groups against big business, including Bong Mines, Firestone Rubber Plantation, and LAMCO, etc. They also provided aid and loan to president Samuel Doe for restoring ties with Israel, expelling the Soviets, closing the Libyan People’s Bureau, and granting the US the right to use Robert International Airport and the Free Port of Monrovia for military purpose. The agreement for the use of these ports requires the US to submit a request within 24-hour advance notice.

We can wisely assume that big business, agents of the World Bank, and their affiliates prefer a candidate, such as Varney Sherman, Charles Brumskine, etc. (i.e., a friend of big business), or George Weah, etc. (i.e., a popular candidate who has no organizational support). Such a candidate usually creates an environment conducive for big business to increase prices of goods and services at the expense of the poor. Therefore, as Liberians search for new leaders, we must elect a candidate who has a good heart and a good character and does enjoy the support of a formidable institution. Such a leader should have associated and worked with a team of experts during a reasonable period. If we elect a leader who hastily brings experts together, short of a working relationship, as we saw during the administrations of Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor – that person will not have the experience and tenacity in rejecting kickbacks and demands from agents of the World Bank and big business.