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THE 60th anniversary of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) this year is a birthday most of the world will feel disinclined to celebrate. But it is one we felt we had to mark, if only as a token of our determination not to let their exploits slip by unnoticed. The two institutions are rarely mentioned in mainstream news stories and the IMF in particular seems to wear a cloak of invisibility to rival Harry Potter’s. Yet their impact on most of the world’s people is profound – and profoundly disturbing.

We are grateful for the support of the 50 Years Is Enough network. This is a coalition of campaigning organizations from around the world which is co-ordinated from Washington DC by Njoki Njoroge Njehû and Soren Ambrose. We hope this issue of the magazine will encourage many more people to join their campaign.

The NI was privileged to carry one of the last interviews with Julius Nyerere, former leader of Tanzania, before he died in 1999. In it he recalled being asked by the World Bank what had gone wrong during his time in power up to 1985. He came right back at them. ‘In 1988 Tanzania’s per-capita income was $280. Now, in 1998, it is $140. So I asked the World Bank people what went wrong. Because for the last 10 years Tanzania has been signing on the dotted line and doing everything the IMF and the World Bank wanted. Enrolment in school has plummeted to 63 per cent and conditions in health and other social services have deteriorated. I asked them again: “What went wrong?” These people just sat there looking at me. Then they asked what could they do? I told them have some humility. Humility – they are so arrogant!’

Chris Brazier & Adam Ma’anit for the New Internationalist Co-operative

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