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World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, who visited SA last week, did not come as a “tourist World Bank president” on a ceremonial African visit, he says, but with a mission to persuade South Africans that the bank is not the “ideological organisation” many fear it to be. Kim, a Korean-born American who himself once campaigned to have the World Bank shut down, has been its leader since 2012. A physician in infectious diseases and an anthropologist who has worked in community health in the poorest countries of the world, he is not the archetypal global banker. Instead of trying to impose market disciplines on poor countries, Kim’s focus has been the opposite: to bend the will of markets to work for poor people. When the HIV/Aids epidemic exploded, for instance, Kim — who was then at the World Health Organisation (WHO) — was one of a handful of global leaders who believed that providing treatment for Africans was both possible and morally imperative. “Every single leader, even people like ...

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