Government has thrown its weight behind Zimbabwean candidate Mr Thomas Zondo Sakala for the post of African Development Bank (AfDB) president in elections set for May this year.Incumbent AfDB president Donald Kaberuka, steps down in May after serving the continental financial institution for 10 years.
Mr Sakala, who has worked for the AfDB for the past 31 years, will be competing with seven other candidates from Cape Verde, Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tunisia. Zimbabwe threw its weight behind the bid.
Mr Sakala, is an experienced development banker who has worked in, and with, African countries all through his professional career. He left the African Development Bank (AfDB) in October 2014. His last official position was Vice-President, Country and Regional Programmes. In that capacity he was a member of the Senior Management Team of the bank led by president Kaberuka, contributing to its overall strategic direction and institutional performance.
Mr Sakala’s driving objective in seeking the presidency is to “sustain and enhance the transformation of the AfDB and Africa.” This entails consolidating, and refining, the operational strategy, reforms and initiatives introduced under Dr Kaberuka’s sterling leadership in order to guarantee the bank’s relevancy to its clients (including in fragile and emergency situations such as the ongoing Ebola Epidemic) and delivery of inclusive and sustainable results.
As vice-president for programmes in the AfDB, he had broad oversight of the dialogue between the bank and all African countries. His responsibilities included coordination of the preparation and approval of the country and regional strategies and programming in Africa.
It also involved developing appropriate operational policies, inter alia, on integrity in procurement and fiduciary arrangements; the bank’s strategy for its work in fragile states; and overseeing the proper implementation of policies, strategies and guidelines on gender, environment, climate change, safeguards and transition to green economies. He had shared responsibility for resource mobilisation for the bank’s soft-window (the African Development Fund) and partnerships with donor countries.
During his long career at the bank, spanning 31 years, he worked in most of the operational and institutional areas of the bank. He visited and worked on many development projects across the continent in agriculture, education and skills development, health, infrastructure (transport and communications, water and sanitation, energy), capacity building and governance. Besides his country of origin, he has lived in Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and the UK. He also lived in Nigeria, including four years as the bank’s country representative.
His intimate knowledge of the structure of bank, its units and the efficiency of its internal organisation, was honed in through his tenure as Director of the Reform Implementation Team in 2007 and subsequently, Director of the Programming and Budget Department, Office of the First Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of the Bank and as Acting Vice-President in charge of Corporate Services. In these positions, he was responsible for the coordination of the implementation of key institutional reforms and improved work programme alignment with the bank’s strategy, as well as streamlining business processes and human policies and practices. All these measures facilitated the considerable improvement and increase in the quality and quantum of bank assistance programmes in the Regional Member Countries in Africa. Furthermore, he was involved in the early preparations for the bank’s return from Tunis to its Headquarters in Abidjan and updating of its Business Continuity Plan (disaster preparedness).
Mr Sakala is proficient in English and is fully comfortable working in the other official language of the Bank, French.
Prior to joining the AfDB, Mr Sakala worked successively for close to three years as Senior Research and Principal Planning Officer in the newly created Ministry of Manpower Planning and Development in Zimbabwe, which carried out Zimbabwe’s first post-independence National Manpower Survey. He was part of the Survey’s central coordinating team and was one of the architects of its major policy recommendations, many of which were implemented by the Government.
Zondo Sakala holds a BSc (Hons) and an MSc in Economics from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He also undertook research work on the anticipated challenges of land and agricultural transformation in post-independent Zimbabwe at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex in the United Kingdom.