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S.Africa’s Manuel rules out IMF candidacy

Former South African finance minister Trevor Manuel ruled out standing to become the next head of the International Monetary Fund, as nominations closed Friday.

“I decided not to avail myself,” Manuel told journalists in Johannesburg.

“Today is the closing date and I certainly haven’t put my hat in the ring.”

Manuel had been rumoured as a candidate for the IMF post with South Africa and other developing countries calling Europe’s hold on the position “obsolete”, but failing to agree on a nomination of their own.

“I think a lot more could be done, a lot more should have been done to persuade Europeans that this birthright is not a birthright that should find a resonance in an institution as important as the International Monetary Fund,” he said.

“If because President (Jacob) Zuma happens to be Zulu-speaking, we as South Africans say henceforth the president has to be a Zulu speaker, it would be quite bizare,” he said.

“If you don’t have an open contest about these issues, it would be quite bizare… in a global context, to accept.”

“That’s a question I think Europeans have to answer about themselves and about the world,” he said.

“My point is not an anti-European point. My point is that you must have a decision-making that is premised on ability, not only to manage an institution, but also to reflect certain changes in the way in which decisions are taken, and the way in which the global economy must rebalance,” he added.

French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde is the frontrunner in the race to lead the International Monetary Fund, with Mexico’s central bank governor Agustin Carstens the leading contender from the developing world.

Manuel declined to endorse either candidate, but said of Lagarde: “She’s very competent, she’s very charming.”

In an interview earlier Friday, he said he wanted to focus on his work in South Africa where he is a cabinet member and heads the government’s National Planning Commission (NPC) meant to plot a 2030 vision for South Africa.

“I’ve just been part of this amazing process in the National Planning Commission. We’ve got to turn this country around,” he told public radio station SAFM.

“My adrenaline is flowing about South Africa right now. It’s where my focus is.”

The vacancy at the helm of the IMF arose after Dominique Strauss-Kahn, seen as a French presidential contender, resigned from the post after being charged with sex offences in New York.

Strauss-Kahn has denied all seven charges against him.