03 May 2007 Blacks Back Wolfowitz: Project 21 Members and International Leaders Praise Wolfowitz’s Focus on Africa; Efforts to End Poverty and Corruption
Black activists with the Project 21 leadership network are voicing their support for embattled World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz because of his strong commitment to helping ease poverty and suffering on the African continent.
“It’s unconscionable that, when there is finally someone at the World Bank who is focused on rooting out corruption, bloat and truly helping the people of Africa, his tenure is being threatened by a coalition of the unwilling who want to maintain the status quo at the institution and punish Paul Wolfowitz for what he did at his previous job,” said Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie.
Critics of Wolfowitz are calling for his resignation as president of the World Bank, ostensibly over his role in securing a pay raise and U.S. State Department job for his girlfriend, Shaha Riza. Riza left the World Bank shortly before Wolfwitz became president of the institution in June of 2005. A World Bank investigative committee is currently trying to determine if Wolfowitz’s actions constituted a breach of ethics.
Many, including former U.S. representative to the World Bank Board of Executive Directors Robert B. Holland, writing in a April 20 Wall Street Journal commentary, say much of the impetus to oust Wolfowitz comes from his clashes with the World Bank bureaucracy over Wolfowitz’s emphasis on anti-corruption measures, curbing wasteful spending and the fact that he brought over many of his own advisors when he took over. Other critics are unhappy that, as deputy secretary of defense for President George W. Bush, Wolfowitz played a key role in United States policy regarding Iraq.
Andrew Young, the American civil rights leader and a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, described in a April 30 Washington Post commentary how he put aside his political animosity for Wolfowitz because of the positive change his World Bank leadership has brought to the African continent. Young wrote: “I saw Wolfowitz as the neocon policy wonk who lead us into a war in Iraq… At the World Bank, however, an aggressive impatience with the evils of disease and poverty is exactly what is needed… His commitment and aggressiveness in promoting African development… have been welcomed by those who love Africa and the developing world.”
“The wellbeing of the world’s poorest of the poor in sub-Saharan Africa has been a priority for Mr. Wolfowitz since his appointment,” said Project 21 Fellow Deneen Borelli. “Developing nations need uncorrupted access to financial resources for the economic growth, which is the key to survival. The people of Africa want jobs, education for their children, clean water, ample food and medicine and to live in a healthy and safe environment. Paul Wolfowitz has been aggressively pursuing to make fulfilling these needs a reality.”
Praise for Wolfowitz’s World Bank tenure among African leaders is effusive.
In a May 1 New York Times commentary, Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission chairman Nuhu Ribadu credited Wolfowitz with promoting a better standard of living for Africans in general and for helping root out financial and government corruption in particular. “[H]e has been a steadfast supporter of the efforts of African organizations to rescue our people from the scourge of misrule, which leads to poverty, disease and early death,” wrote Ribadu. “The enormous challenges we face would have proved almost insurmountable without external help, especially from the World Bank under Mr. Wolfowitz.”
Liberian finance minister Antoinette Sayah praised Wolfowitz at a April 14 World Bank-International Monetary Fund press conference, saying: “In the Liberian case and the case of many forgotten post-conflict fragile countries, he has been a visionary… We think he has done a lot to bring Africa in general… into the limelight.” Adolphe Muzito, the budget minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, recently told Reuters, “This is someone whom we’ve worked with well. He pays attention to African problems.”
“It is critical to develop the continent of Africa, especially during a time when the market is quickly becoming global. Africa will play an important role in technology, education and trade to attract major companies to conduct business on the continent,” said Project 21 member Akindele Akinyemi. “It seems Mr. Wolfowitz is unfairly being targeted because he is committed to the success and development of Africa.”
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.