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Thursday, 17 April 2008

Legal action against the IMF / World Bank?

It appears Prof Chirwa (and his 'Harvard' and 'LSE' friends) are considering suing the World Bank / IMF over the privatisation of the mines (if elected?):

Indeed, in the mid-term, Zambia should take the World Bank to international courts of law and seek compensation for lost revenue based on misappropriated advice that tightly tied Zambia’s negotiating hands and greatly influenced the outcome of the contracts negotiations. A good example is the mischief portrayed by the World Bank when they assured Zambia that some mines that were sold had finite life spans of up to 7 years........We will know when we go to court. Indeed I have been assured by my very good friends at the London School of Economics and Harvard University in USA that the World Bank and its advisers plus other players have a big case to answer. If taken to court we will win and we will be compensated for lost revenue. This will not be easy but as it stands it is 90 per cent achievable. With little more effort, we will do it.


  1. The article was quite enlighting as I would never have been able to do the sums as far as the Zambian mines are concerned. Frankly I'm not too sure I understand everything that's mentioned in the article, but I sort of get the gist of it. It's commendable that Professor Chirwa has picked up on the IMF's/World Bank's role in perpetuating poverty in most of the "developing" nations although any human rights conscious person would be aware of this fact anyway. It's not necessarily a eureka moment, is it?
    My primary concern with the proposed agenda of taking legal action against the IMF/World Bank is that it's not a matter that should be used for an individual's political career enhancement. There are real lives involved in all this and the sooner ideas are shared and set in motion, the quicker the Zambian masses will get compensated. Some things such as this issue need to be treated with a degree of urgency. I therefore don't think the Prof should be using this as his leverage for his political ambitions. If indeed he believes the nation can sue the IMF/World Bank, why should it wait for him to be in power? We are in a democratic system and ideas should not just come from government. Is it merely his interests that he is looking after or those of the nation at large? Much as I respect the Prof. I would like him to get involved as much as he possibly can in matters that affect the country before we got to the polls and way before active campaigning begins. After all, he keeps reminding us that he is going into politics because he loves Zambia and is concerned about its wefare. He has not made light of the fact that the Presidential position will not even pay him as much as he is making at present- So I say "touche" to that and put your money where your mouth is, Prof Chirwa.

  2. I think there are probably three separate questions.

    1. Is the IMF/World Bank to blame?
    2. If the answer to (1) is yes, can they really be sued?
    3. If the answer to (2) is yes, why Chirwa now and not govt before?

    On 1, I have previous said the IMF / World were just a scape goat. No one forced us down the road we took. I actually think instead of passing on blame, Zambian politicians should hold their hands up and simply say we blew it. See the discussion we had on Quote of the week (Edith Nawakwi)

    But even if the IMF / World Bank were responsible, I don't think they can actually be successfully sued. Is there a precedent for such an action? Also the people who run the IMF / World Bank are the same people who fund our aid initiaves. So one could even argue that suppose the IMF / World Bank were responsible, well they have given enough money back in aid!

    I have to conclude therefore that Prof Chirwa being a smart man must be know all this...


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