By Our Reporter
There is no doubt that the fallen Bank of Uganda Governor Emanuel Tumusiime Mutebile was an iconic figure, having spent at least 30-years as a top economic and financial technocrat of the government of Uganda.
For this, his replacement is poised to raise interest and excitement among Ugandans and in the international banking and financial fraternity abroad, where he was highly regarded.
During his tenure as Central Bank Chief Executive Officer and board chairman, Mutebile won several local and international awards, including the 2011 African Central Bank Governor of the Year award, at the annual World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings.
This came at the time when the country’s inflation was at its highest in years, and analysts attributed the situation to two main reasons; the lagging effects of the global financial crisis 2007–2008, as well as the political season that had witnessed a lot of spending by candidates.
Nevertheless, Mutebile was hailed for having a major role in the high economic growth rates for Uganda in the previous two decades. The two Bretton Woods institutions were also the facilitators of Uganda’s economic liberalization policy that took effect in the early 1990s, leading to the divestiture of the then-ailing government corporations and dissolving of national boards.
And, as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mutebile was seen as the main architect of these and other policies.
In December 2006, Makerere University appointed him an Honorary Professor in the School of Economics and Management. And in 2009, Nkumba University awarded him an honorary doctorate for his “outstanding skills as a financial manager,” according to the University Chancellor Dr Maggie Kigozi.
One of the attributes Mr Mutebile will be remembered for is his boldness in addressing critical matters.
In 2010, he threatened to resign if revenues from oil production, expected to commence in 2011, was mishandled or not used in a way transparent to all Ugandans.
He told Members of Parliament that the money would be used to maintain macroeconomic stability and to provide services for growth. Unfortunately, he has died 11 years later, before oil production even starts.
At the beginning of his tenure as governor, the born of Kigezi threatened to resign if President Museveni agreed to bail out businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba with 21 billion shilling to revive his business. However, after mediated negotiations between him and the president Mutebile agreed to release the money after the businessman deposited his land titles with the Bank.
In 2012, under pressure from parliament, a cabinet sub-committee grilled him over the Basajjabalaba deal which was now 141 billion but he convinced them that he was acting under instructions.
The following day, journalists reminded him about his vows to resign.
“I can assure you I am here for the long haul. There’s is nothing that can take me out of this seat except God. Therefore, the market shouldn’t worry about the rumblings in Parliament. Nothing can take me out of this seat. The Constitution gives only one person the right to take me out of this position, and that is the President. It gives him only three reasons: insanity, dishonesty and incompetence. As you can see, I am not insane, and I am an honest man”.
In 2018, at the Africa Block-chain Conference in Kampala, Mutebile openly opposed President Museveni for allowing digital currency or cryptocurrency, saying it would encourage money laundering since it cannot be regulated.
President Museveni appealed to him to “be more inquisitive, not dogmatic” before deciding on the issue. In the same year, Mutebile opposed President Museveni and government proposals to build a currency printing factory to print Uganda’s currency locally, saying it would be costlier and redundant as the economy moves towards digitization. That is the man who, the appointing authority has to replace.
Part IV of the Bank of Uganda Act 2000 states, “There shall be a governor who shall be a person of recognised financial or banking experience and shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Cabinet.”
It would be one of the hardest jobs guessing who the president will choose as the next governor because there is a host of persons of financial and banking experience and integrity in Uganda.
Some names of prominent economists and financial experts have been mentioned though as the public starts to speculate.
Dr Michael Atingi Ego:
He is the current Deputy Governor since March 2020 and is now Acting Governor. Before becoming Deputy Governor, the Ugandan economist, served as the Executive Director of the Macroeconomics and Financial Management, Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI), based in Harare, Zimbabwe.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Makerere University and a Master of Arts in Economics from the Cardiff Business School, in the UK, as well as a PhD in Economics the University of Liverpool, UK. He started his carrier at the BOU in the early 1990s and rose to become the Executive Director, Research.
In 2008 he was appointed Deputy Director of the African Department at the IMF in Washington, until 2018 when he became executive director at MEFMI. Ordinarily, the 57-year old should take up the top job, however, the appointing authority likes surprises.
A governor should be one who commands the respect and confidence of the financial sector, is able to stand up to defend the independence of the central bank, and stand by their professional view.
In 2019 information widely circulated how Balunywa was tipped to become the next governor, with Mutebile’s contract expected not to be renewed after 2021. Some media outlets even stated how he was “leading the race ahead of (then Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Finance) Keith Muhakanizi and Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende.
He was again mentioned in 2020 as “leading the race” to succeed Dr Kasekende as Deputy as the latter’s contract came to an end. All these ended up as mere rumours as the president extended Mutebile’s tenure, having brought in Atingi-Ego as Deputy.
Balunywa holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and Master of Business Administration from the University of Delhi, India, as well as a PhD in Entrepreneurship from the University of Sterling, UK awarded in 2009. He started as a lecturer in, Department of Commerce at Makerere University, and later in the Department of Accounting, Banking and Finance, before becoming Dean Faculty of Commerce, Makerere University. He spearheaded the creation of Makerere University Business School (MUBS), of which he was named Principal.
“The president might this time appoint a pure academic person,” says an official at the Capital Markets Authority on condition of anonymity. He has previously served as a member of the Central Bank board.
Dr Louis A. Kasekende:
The 63-year old economist served as Deputy Governor twice, from 1999 to 2002 and 2010 to 2020. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Makerere University. His Master of Arts degree and Doctorate of Philosophy, both in Economics, from the University of Manchester, UK.
Kasekende started as a part-time lecturer at Makerere University and joined the Bank of Uganda in 1986, rising to the post of Executive Director of Research and Policy, before becoming Deputy Governor.
However, between 2002 and 2004, he served as the Executive Director at the World Bank, representing twenty-two African countries, and as Chief Economist at the African Development Bank. He maintains indifference when asked about the possibility of taking the role.
Dr Ezra Suruma:
The 76-year old Ugandan economist, banker, and academic served as Director, Research at BOU and in 1993, left to become Managing Director Uganda Commercial Bank. He also worked as a professor of economics and management at Makerere University and at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University. In 2005, he served as minister for finance, planning s economic development till 2009 when he became a presidential advisor on finance.
He is also Makerere University Chancellor. He was named “Best Finance Minister of Africa Award” for 2008 by the international magazine, The Banker, mainly for the introduction and rapid growth of Uganda’s microfinance industry. He has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Fordham University, a Master of Economics and a PhD from the University of Connecticut.
A Ugandan economist, Dr Mugume is Director of Research and Policy at BOU and recently served as Acting Deputy Governor before Atingi-Ego’s appointment and relocation to Uganda. He was once head of the Department of Economic Theory and Analysis at Makerere University and he taught econometrics.
Mugume holds the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Makerere, a MA degree in Economics from the University of Botswana, and a PhD in Economics, from the University of Oxford.
He is an “Economic Transformation Consultant” and Managing Director Reeve Consult. He has been a Lecturer at Makerere University, Chairperson of the Academic Staff Association. He graduated in 1989 from Makerere University with a Bachelor of Social Sciences, and from the London School of Economics with a Master of Science. He got his PhD in Economics, specializing in Inclusive Growth and Poverty Eradication from Makerere University.
He has also been mentioned before as a possible successor when Mutebile’s contract was nearing expiry in 2021, alongside former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Keith Muhakanizi.
Perhaps the most outspoken of the former PS/STs, he is currently the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister.
He is touted as one of the most agile technocrats the ministry saw, as he was usually always ready with an answer to every question. Muhakanizi was also opposed to supplementary budgets and high borrowing rates, arguing that if the budget is strictly followed, there would be very little need for a supplementary.
He perhaps knows the Late Mutebile best regarding the professional era, though he served as PS/ST for only four years. He has been involved in the development and execution of economic policies for more than a decade at the ministry of finance, served as a member of the board BOU, and was chairperson of the Economic Policy Research Center at Makerere University. He has been relatively out of public sight since his transfer to the OPM last year.
A Certified Public Accountant, Ojangole is the current Chief Executive of Uganda Development Bank, since 2012. She joined Uganda Development Bank as Head Internal Audit in 2011 after stints in several African countries. The 45-year old holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Makerere University, in Kampala, and a Master of Business Administration from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute, Tanzania. She is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, UK and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda.
He is the current State Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development and an MP. Born in 1961, Lugoloobi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from Makerere University, Kampala, and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI).
In parliament, he has chaired the Budget Committee and has been influential regarding legislation on economic and financial matters. There are many others who would qualify, and this gives the president a big basket from which to choose. The President is also known to bring into the system ‘outsiders’ or those hardly thought of, like happened with the current cabinet.
Other recent surprises are the PS/ST Ramathan Ggoobi and the Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General, John Musinguzi Rujoki, who took top positions ahead of veterans of the organisations.
Ivan Rugambwa, from the Uhuru Institute for Social Development, says “Mutebile was for stability and growth, not transformation. He was a reformer, not a revolutionary. He was an icon for multinational capital, but a Waterloo for local industry. Hopefully, we shall now turn the page on the era of growth, and usher in the era of transformation.”
Prof Nuwagaba, in his view of Mutebile, said, “We are still struggling to come to terms with the passing on of Prof Mutebile who was the embodiment of Uganda’s economic policies that have enabled Uganda’s sustained growth over many decades.”