Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni who is now busy trekking a historical walk with his supporters through the jungles of Luwero Triangle looks focused on the political ball ahead of 2021 general elections.
However, no one can be deceived he is not thinking about the developments at the most important economy department in the country, that of Bank of Uganda, whose deputy governor’s position is expiring in a couple of days, January 18, 2020.
Mr Museveni, a master chess player, is in no hurry to renew the expiring contract of the deputy governor Dr Louis Kasekende. The reasons for the delay are not yet known however, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has been quoted saying he has done his part of writing to President Museveni informing him of the near expiry of the term of the deputy governor.
However, Museveni has not moved an inch in responding to Kasaijja’s letter. The finance minister says it is not up to him to renew Dr Kasekende’s tenure as it is the president’s mandate to do so.
Dr Kasekende, 61, according to close associates, is still very much interested in getting another term at BoU but the appointing authority has painfully taken his time, showing as if he is not interested in what is happening at BoU. The clock is ticking and warning ‘time out’ for Mr Kasekende.
On January 18 2020, Dr Kasekende will either get an extension to his contract, or, walk out of the Bank after 34 years since he first joined as a young man.
With President Museveni not showing enthusiasm in renewing the tenure of the second most powerful man at Bank of Uganda, the writing is on the wall. And even if he renews his tenure finally, there is a lot of soul searching Mr Kasekende must address himself to.
With a frail governor, Prof Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, the responsibility of the efficient running of the central bank rested on Dr Kasekende’s shoulders for the last 10 years. Dr Kasekende was appointed deputy governor in January 2010 as Mutebile started showing signs of tiring and old age was catching up with him. The term of governor and deputy is for five years, which means Kasekende has already served two terms and he knows all around the corners and corridors of Bank of Uganda. He should have used this to drive BoU into the right direction. In fact, the opportunity came around 2015/16 when Prof Mutebile was bedridden, and Kasekende was fully in charge of the Bank of Uganda.
Unfortunately, the Bank of Uganda ship all of a sudden hit an iceberg, and this was escalated after the closure of Crane Bank, then the second biggest bank.
The collapse of Crane Bank was announced by Bank of Uganda as a regulatory control move, however, its effect on the economy was mammoth with many business people hitting a dead end as Crane Bank was their last resort in running their day to day finance operations.
Then, Crane bank was sold to DFCU bank by BoU, a move which turned out catastrophic and has haunted the managers of the central bank to this day.
Both the Auditor General and Parliament have pointed out several regulatory and management errors in the procedures taken in closing not only Crane Bank, but also the skeletons of other defunct commercial banks were un-buried and fingers pointed at management greed and incompetence. It was hard to believe as directors admitted to selling banks, for example, on telephone or whatsapp messages.
Whether Kasekende is the scapegoat of BoU’s failures or, he is falling on his own sword is only a matter of days. January 18 is the day of reckoning.
Critics have always asked why Prof Mutebile has been overlooked for his role as captain of the BoU ship to land it safe on the shores. Some say it is the emerged divisions between the governor and his deputy camps that could be blamed for the inefficiencies.
Kasekende joined Bank of Uganda in 1986, serving in different roles until he reached deputy governor position. He in between also worked for the international monetary fund (IMF), World Bank and African Development Bank. He has his first degree in Economics from Makerere University, a diploma in Econometrics, Masters in Econometrics and PhD in the same discipline.
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