Ugandans are generally quick to scorn and ridicule local enterprises and organisations. We, massively, launch attacks on our Central Bank, quickly transfer our arsenal of weapons of defamation to the banks it regulates and we do not hesitate to survey ground for the next victim. Remember the social media comments on Uganda Airlines? If so, you know what I am talking about. When the airlines does not give those people enough fodder to criticise them, guns are then turned on Makerere University. Even when the University gets favourable rankings by rating agencies, the assigned rating will be quickly portrayed as faulty by many Ugandan commentators. The momentum with which these attacks progress is sometimes with a lot of sensationalism. A look at Uganda’s social media space would possibly tell this story better than I can. Sometimes, even private individuals who progress to a level of relative achievement do not get spared. People end up saying they are mere proxies of what they own, or even state that they are beneficiaries of a history of wrongs such as robbery or other forms of mischief. As such, out of our own making, we may generally lack any source of national pride to motivate future generations. Similarly, we may not have any impressive pool of role models for the young to emulate for business purposes, and other forms of success aspirations.
The above should however not be taken to imply that there is no value in self-assessment and honesty about our shortfalls as a nation. It is necessary for us to be candid in reviewing ourselves and registering areas for improvement. There are not few such areas and possibly every Ugandan knows them. However, a general adverse attitude about almost everything does not fall in the category of progressive self-assessment for development purposes. When independent but positive reports about Uganda must be contested and portrayed in a negative light and nothing good about the country gets appreciated, and we instead strive to locate the dark spots against every silver lining, then we are cultivating a dangerous trend. In the future when we may want to draw on a loyal and patriotic citizenry, we may simply have none.
Consequences of this widespread negativity about our country are not as inapt as we may think. For example, I have read commentary where the writer wondered why our central bank management has been receiving accolades while there is much to see of their shortfalls, in recent times. Some of the content in the said commentary was based on operational lapses that have been noted when the central bank has been under scrutiny. To a good extent, it disregarded the core strategic roles that the bank performs to sustain a reliable market environment, overall. It centralizes operational weaknesses and seeks to apply them to write off strategic achievements, without delving into the latter.
Going on to single out the central bank and the financial services sector as an example, we need to note that defamation on them serves no good for any Ugandan. Agitating for a vote of no confidence on our own financial system implies that we strive to compromise our own position in the global financial scheme. Our banks, of necessity, must work with others to serve us as we engage in trade and business. It is therefore vital that our financial system as a country can be trusted beyond our borders. Our insurers as well must retain the confidence of counterparts outside Uganda, to be able to serve us through appropriate reinsurance arrangements. Were our opinions, as often portrayed in attacks against our own financial institutions, to translate into global conclusions about our country, we might as well have been heading to exclusion from the global financial playing field. In instances where some countries get perceived as lacking sufficient control over their financial services sector, they may be taken to pose various dangers such as money laundering proliferation, and therefore dangerous to the rest of the world. They may then get blacklisted and their citizens will suffer the dire consequences of financial exclusion. Whereas such drastic actions against countries would happen after only systematic considerations and not because of expressions in the media, it should nevertheless indicate to us that we do not do ourselves any good when we purpose to always dent our financial institutions.
The set of perceptions that stakeholders hold of an entity, whether formed out of facts or rumours and unverified allegations, comprises the reputation of that entity. This reputation is fundamental to the strategic partnerships and relationships that it can form to advance its own strategy. If the entity’s strategy succeeds, entity members and stakeholders are direct beneficiaries. Uganda is one such entity and citizens need to mind what they contribute to the set of perceptions about her, and if their contribution promotes both their personal and the national aspirations.
Raymond is a Chartered Risk Analyst and risk management consultant