Call it unintended consequences. The World Bank is one of the organisations that should employ people with the highest integrity. And practising racism, is one thing that could bury one’s career.
However, a high-ranking World Bank chief is in the eye of the storm, over a colleague, who is leaving Bank of Uganda after the expiry of his contract.
Ms Anne Namara Kabagambe opened a can of worms on twitter on Tuesday morning when she attacked Ugandan billionaire Sudhir Ruparelia that he is an “Indian” behind the exit of Dr Louis Kasekende from Bank of Uganda. She had however, underestimated the backlash her jab would earn her. A few hours later, she put her tail back between her legs, and feigned, her account had been hacked!
Whereas the under fire Ms Kabagambe has distanced herself from the tweet, using the very account handle @kabagambe, experts say, “she had acknowledged her mistake”.
Experts add however that Ms Kabagambe, the World Bank board director supervising 22 countries in Africa, “was bluffing” and needed to be penalised for her oversight as an official of the respected World Bank.
“Dear Twitter, it has come to my attention that my account has been hacked. Please ignore any racists comments & tweets”. read her tweet.
In the above statement the World Bank director acknowledged her earlier tweet was “racist”.
The tweet which has since been pulled down, but, was already being reshared by hundreds of people read, “The Indian Sudil (read Sudhir Ruparelia) lobbied him out of office.” It was posted on January 21, 2020 at 5:15am.
Kabagambe, who at some point worked at the African Development Bank as Mr Kasekende, was commenting on developments at Bank of Uganda, one of the institutions she supervises on behalf World Bank, whose deputy governor, has bowed out.
Sudhir, is a billionaire, born and schooled in Uganda and worked abroad as a youngman following the expulsion of Asians in 1970s. He returned to Kampala in early 1980s even before NRM recalled Asians to return home, and started businesses in Kampala.
In the last 30 years, Sudhir, has reached the top of business, running over 25 companies and employing about 10,000 people. Every year, Sudhir Ruparelia appears among the top five tax payers, and his companies feature on the top 100 tax payers lists published by Uganda Revenue Authority.
The fight between Sudhir and Kasekende, started after one of his flourishing business, Crane Bank, was closed down unceremoniously. The Bank of Uganda didn’t stop there, they sold his properties from another company, Meera Investments, to DFCU bank, without his permission. And, the Bank of Uganda, wanted him to pay back, over Sh400 billion, allegedly sank into Crane Bank in liquidation, but remains unaccounted for, till today.
The fight has played in Courts of law and Parliament, and in the process, the public is satisfied, Bank of Uganda officials have been ripping the Ugandan tax payers, as well as owners of defunct banks, and this conclusion is backed up by the Auditor General’s report, as well as a Parliamentary Public Hearing.
It was therefore out of this world that Ms Kabagambe, a Rwandan, schooled in American Universities including George Washington University, Columbia University and University of California San Diego, would go after Sudhir with comments now said to be “racist”.
Sudhir called out Ms Kabagambe as a “racist” in a tweet which also become viral in Uganda.
“What a racist? Yet working as director@WorldBank…” Sudhir responded.
A tourism blogger Baluku Godfrey commented immediately, that, he was disappointment that Ms Kabagambe had stooped so low to play a racial card in the matter.
“Why play a race card @Kabagambe? Is Dr @SudhirRuparelia1 part of the appointing authority? Am disappointed in you @akabagambe.” Baluku tweeted.
Obam Andrew Esq said, “Even the best dancers leave the dance floor at some point, leave room for others, this is absolutely racist and should not be called for . There is a difference between a contract ending and being lobbied out of office, the score card better still gave the right indicator.”
The Twitter war followed the unceremonious exit of Dr Kasekende from the Central Bank after two terms.
Kasekende desperately wanted another term and reports indicated that he played out all his cards lobbying for a renewal but President Yoweri Museveni had taken his time to make a decision on the number two at Bank of Uganda.
Dr Kasekende and his allies now believe the turn of events for his career, was orchestrated by the allies of Mr Ruparelia, although the scandals that have hit BoU in the recent past, could have closed his fate.
Dr Kasekende, 61 assumed office as Deputy Governor in January, 2010 and his contract ended last week.
Recently, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija revealed that he had written to Museveni about Kasekende’s contract but he was yet to receive any response from him because ‘he had a lot of things to do lately’.
It is understood that Mr Museveni’s silence on the renewal of Kasekende’s contract meant he was not impressed with the work of the governors but honoured their contracts.
It was also revealed in the media that BoU work had suffered from cliques at the Central Bank that fight to bring each other down. The two camps were allied to either the Governor and his now former Deputy.
As if that was not enough, in June last year, Members of Parliament raised concerns over the incessant scandals plaguing the country’s Central Bank following the recent mishap in which a consignment of printed currency flown into the country included extra cargo not on the bank’s documentation.
The scandal led to State House’s anti-corruption Czar, Edith Nakalema move to arrest several bank officers.
The legislators hinted on the unsatisfactory behaviour of the Bank of Uganda (BoU) in response to a report presented by the State Finance Minister for Planning, David Bahati, noting that not so long ago the Bank was under investigation for erroneously shutting down commercial banks in the country, a drama that played out in broad daylight probe which exposed bank chiefs as incompetent and fraudsters.
Commenting about the illicit cash on the plane, Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County) said what is required at BOU is a structural overhaul because there is a problem.
“As if BoU has not learnt, it falls in the same problem. The other problem is that the Board of Directors does not report to anyone and therefore, they cannot be probed,” he noted, one of the key points noted in the Cosase report to Parliament after the BoU probe.
Katuntu said that there is a need to go back to some of the recommendations made on BoU after the probe on illegally closing of commercial banks.
“Things like the Governor being the Board Chairman has to be changed; it means that he reports to himself and dictates how things should be run without being questioned,” Katuntu added.
He said that there are two factions; one for the Governor and the other under the Deputy Governor that are always fighting themselves because of succession.
He added, “The effects of what is going on in BoU is going to affect us all badly.”
MP Alex Byarugaba (Isingiro South) said that it is an embarrassing moment for MPs and the country because back in the day, the Central Bank was never involved in scandals.
“These people who are being suspected should be on suspension to show that the government is committed to iron out such issues in that institution because we are fed up of the countless scandals,” he said.
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