There is a deeper reason for sustained corruption: Neoliberal ideology.

To some degree, next week’s Annual Meetings of the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) in Marrakech will be focused on the tragic earthquake and flooding damage in Morocco and Libya, respectively – in turn reflecting a lack of durable infrastructure, especially in the latter case after the state was crippled by NATO regime-change excesses in 2011 and Derna’s fragile dams were not maintained. The reconstruction funding needs are enormous, but are the BWIs appropriate allies, given their record?

In late August, the BRICS+ gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, raised near-universal concern (or even misplaced hope) that some of the world’s most tyrannical regimes are uniting and potentially facing off against the ‘West’ in part because of the BWIs’ heavy-handed loan conditionality.

Five of the six new members are from the Middle East and Horn of Africa, including dangerously-indebted Egypt and Ethiopia, while another new member, Argentina, is under Washington’s austerity thumb. And that perception will probably compel a more active reengagement of BRICS+ regimes by a new down-to-business World Bank President, Ajay Banga, and by International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, who reflect a long-standing global-apartheid policy in which only U.S. and European citizens get Bank and IMF leadership, respectively.

Banga’s own decade-old history in Johannesburg’s Soweto township featured a Mastercard partnership with a Bank-owned ‘financial inclusion’ firm (Cash Paymaster Services) that in 2020 was forced into receivership after failing to pay fines for extensive fraud against the state (via a corrupt welfare minister) and millions of the society’s poorest (see Observer Summer 2023).

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