South Africa will on Friday formally nominate its
former finance minister Trevor Manuel for the role of IMF
managing director, Emerging Markets can reveal,
turning the race on its head as the deadline for nominations
draws to a close.
The move ends weeks of speculation over his intentions and
radically shakes up a contest that seemed all but set to be
clinched by French finance minister Christine Lagarde.
A senior and well placed source in Pretoria on
Thursday confirmed to Emerging Markets that
Manuel, whose name has been in contention since the shock
resignation last month of former managing director Dominique
Strauss Kahn, has won the backing of president Jacob Zuma.
The African Union on Thursday called for a
non-European, and preferably an African, candidate to head the
I think it wouldnt be difficult to deduce from
that statement who they are talking about, because theres
only one candidate that has been spoken about, the source
Theres only one candidate being spoken about at
the moment who is from the continent.
Manuel is the only African candidate to have been named so
far. Another senior government source added: It is
between the minister and his boss. It is an employer/employee
kind of thing.
The announcement is expected to be made on
Friday as Lagarde arrives in Lisbon in a bid to canvass
African support for her candidacy at the African Development
Banks annual meeting.
The news is likely to send shockwaves through official
circles which had seen Lagardes victory in the race -
which ends on 30 June - until now as effectively a done
In response to a question from Emerging Markets,
Brazils finance minister Guido Mantega last week revealed
that Zuma had called Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff to
support Manuels bid for the IMF.
But it emerged on Thursday that Brazil would
likely plump for Lagarde, despite intensive lobbying by South
Africa and Mexico, which is fielding Agustin Carstens, its
central banker, for the role although he has so far met with
The news shatters hopes that the powerful BRIC grouping
would unite behind an emerging markets candidate.
A senior Brazilian official close to the discussions told
Emerging Markets that Brasilia was now firmly behind
the French candidate. Even if Trevor Manuel is a
candidate, Brazil would still prefer Madame Lagarde, the
source said, adding that she was seen as more committed to
reform of the international financial system. Manuel and
Carstens are considered far too orthodox for
Brazil, he added.
It also emerged on Thursday that the Funds acting
managing director John Lipsky is likely to stay on
indefinitely in his former role as first deputy
managing director, a senior IMF official close to Lipsky told
Before Strauss-Kahns abrupt departure, Lipsky had
announced that he would retire in August.
Such a move would complicate even further the already
intricate horse-trading over the top slots at the IMF. One
widely discussed comprise has been for an emerging market
candidate to take the number two job, which has traditionally
been held by an American. An about-face by Lipsky, a US
citizen, would scupper such a prospect.
Meanwhile in Lisbon African policy officials remained
sharply divided on their support. Tunisias finance
minister Jalloul Ayed told Emerging Markets:
We are in favour of Christine Lagarde. For Tunisia
shell be a great advocate of this amazing development in
the Arab world.
Ugandas deputy finance minister on Thursday
acknowledged that he was aware of Manuels bid but said
Kampala had yet to decide. I personally would love to see
an African candidate but I will support the decision of the
AfDB president Donald Kaberuka told Emerging
Markets: Im sure youll appreciate that
an African candidate would be saluted by every African,
though he stressed he had no say in the matter.