After a central bank chief ‘for life’ has passed

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Apart from earning very handsomely, the upper class is relatively free to be corrupt.   

Buddhist wisdom:
“Do not overvalue yourself. One day we will all be forgotten.” 

Academically brilliant, but in the end another image of the decay and arrogance of the regime he served, Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile was deposed last weekend by God, as he himself had prophesied. More accurately, by biology.

The only other authority Mutebile acknowledged, the President, must now get a different governor. This, at a time when juggling the different interests of the President, his family, party and country, are perceived to be a nightmare.

If Mutebile occasionally grumbled that “You are wrong there, Mr President, but I will do as you please,” the next governor may find it hard to grumble at all.

We, ordinary citizens, including many so-so economists, generally cannot grasp the full dynamics in which subtle interest rate, cash flow, exchange rate and other central bank adjustments affect our pockets.

That is fine with us. All we need is the consciousness that once someone has won or seized the presidency, it is their responsibility to hire a central bank chief and a finance minister who will help us to prosper.

The same President must also govern the country in a way that enables the chief banker and the minister to deliver positive results.

At a recent function, a Chinese employer/contractor complained that Ugandans the company employed in responsible positions had disappointed. They were dishonest. A minister at the function, Muruli Mukasa, was disturbed, preaching to the workers to see their prospects in the long term instead of seeking quick financial fixes.

A worker’s representative complained that the Chinese employers treated the workers very shabbily. Muruli Mukasa’s song has been parroted a thousand times.

Mr Museveni and his senior officials seem to think that a small class of citizens, including the bank governor and the minister, are entitled to earn a lot of money, and a huge underclass should be patriotic, honest and satisfied with slave wages, as long as they (somehow) do not starve.

Apart from earning very handsomely, the upper class is relatively free to be corrupt. Impunity is one of their privileges.

Unfortunately, the slaves see the opulence of the upper-class thieves. They learn that quick fixes are ‘good’. So they steal what they can; government cash or stationery; cement from a Chinese contractor.

Before Mutebile’s passing, he and various Finance ministers, and one President Museveni, have shaped a dishonest country whose government delivers much less value than implied by cost. Sometimes it delivers nothing.

During the last three weeks alone, we have heard Ministry of Health top dogs lamenting that there was not enough money for transporting Covid-19 vaccines to some of their planned destinations. And Mulago hospital doctors still report an acute shortage of gloves and other essential items.

Schools have opened, but the ministry of Education seems to have only half a clue about the connection between school fees, market prices, corruption and the demands the ministry has imposed on these schools.
Fuel prices are where rockets go.

Meanwhile, the President’s officials want almost Shs40 billion to renovate State House and 29 (yes, twenty-nine) presidential lodges around the country.

Defence is asking Parliament for more than Shs80 billion for a war in the DR Congo that Parliament does not even (officially) know about.

And much more. Remembering that, one day, he, too, will be forgotten, the new central bank governor will find very curious political and financial/economic mechanisms in a Uganda that he can help to redeem – or sink.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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