S.Africa’s Manuel says IMF top job ‘not a me decision’
South African former finance minister Trevor Manuel, a rumoured candidate to take over as International Monetary Fund managing director, said Monday the decision was not his.
In his first public comments on the vacancy left by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Manuel told public broadcaster SABC the issue of his candidacy had been raised, but avoided declaring his interest.
“The issue has been raised but left unresolved,” he said.
“It’s not a me decision. There are all kinds of issues. I think that for any candidate it’s fundamentally important to do what the Europeans are doing, to build a critical mass of support.”
French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has emerged as Europe’s choice to lead the IMF after former head Strauss-Kahn resigned following his arrest on sexual assault charges in the United States.
Emerging countries have called for the next managing director to be chosen from a non-European country, ending the continent’s 65-year hold on the IMF’s top job — a call Manuel supported on Monday.
“It has to be wrong for multilateral bodies to have recruitment processes where birthright is more important than ability,” he said.
Developing countries have not coalesced behind a single candidate for the post.
Besides Manuel, names mentioned include those of Indian planner Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Mexican central banker Agustin Carstens and Leszek Balcerowicz, the pioneer of Poland’s transition from communism to the free market.
The IMF has said the nomination process will run until June 10, with the aim of completing the process by June 30.
Manuel, who now heads South Africa’s National Planning Commission, is internationally respected as an astute economic brain and a darling of investors after his 13 years at the head of the finance ministry.
Appointed finance minister by former president Nelson Mandela in 1996 at the age of 40, the civil engineer — who had no formal economics training — announced a budget surplus a decade later, the first in 30 years.