Friday, May 11, 2007

Zimbabwe.... at the UN

International policy organisations can be very entertaining... even when they try not to be.

The UN is set to elect a head of their "Commission on Sustainable Development." The likely winner? The Zimbabwe Environment Minister, Francis Nheme (see here for more).

As anyone who has listened to my lectures knows, Zimbabwe is a great example of everything that a government should NOT DO. They've destroyed property rights and generated hyperinflation. Millions of citizens have left the country for South Africa or Botswana. Unemployment is above 80%. Zimbabwe is the FASTEST SHRINKING ECONOMY OUTSIDE OF A WAR ZONE, as a direct result of the government's incompetence and corruption.

The only justification I can think of for appointing Zimbabwe to head this commission is that a rapidly shrinking economy may be sustainable. Just increase the corruption levels in each successive year, and shrink the economy a little further!

This reminds me of another incompetent world body appointment. By convention, the United States appoints the head of the World Bank, the world's largest anti-poverty organisation. George W. Bush appointed Paul Wolfowitz, someone with the dubious distinction of being an architect of the Iraq war. He was unqualified for the job, but was supposed to reduce levels of corruption in the dealings of the World Bank with third world officials. One of his first actions? A major pay raise and promotion of his girlfriend, in contravention of World Bank policy. Maybe it takes a corrupt official to recognise corruption!

Fortunately Wolfowitz will probably be forced to resign his position. I don't expect we will be as lucky regarding the UN appointment... Zimbabwe will probably chair the Sustainable Development commission for the full term regardless of their demonstrated incompetence.

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