By Stephen Lwetutte
I don’t think so! That man ran the country’s monetary policy for decades and did so commendably, give the undisputed macroeconomic stability of the country during his tenure. That the economy is collapsing is a topic for a separate discussion and is explained more by the wider economic mismanagement and governance failures outside late Mutebire’s remit, competence and control.
The country was saddened by news of the demise on 23 January 2022 in Nairobi, Kenya of the long-serving Governor of Bank of Uganda Honorary Professor honorius Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebire’s death after a long illness. Loathe him, love him you cannot miss or dismiss him out of hand in the context of Uganda’s economic policy, not just because his signature is appended to every banknote or because he has been in that position for over two decades, but because he shares and bears responsibility for the successes as well as the failures and dramatic scandals attributed that institution.
Before the news of his death sank in, the country was swiftly treated to incredulous revelations of the risk of homelessness the family of the late Governor was facing when the leave the official bank residence, if they have to remain in Kampala. If true, questions are being asked how one of the best paid Chief Executives was unable to plan for life outside the bank, to the extent that the public is being asked to chip in? How a planner by default could have failed to plan for himself? How all the rest of Ugandans surviving a year on a fraction his monthly salary manage such situations day in day out without the tax payers being asked to come to their aid? These questions raise even more questions than provide answers, but many people remain unconvinced.
Admittedly, motion to retain the bank property was being tabled ostensibly to allow the family of the late to continue to live in the capital city, Kampala. If it was deemed appropriate to assist in that respect, wouldn’t it be more modest to leave the choice of the type of assistance, besides staying put in the property, to the decision-makers? It would be expected that, once the family has accepted to make the request public, their request should be equally publicly scrutinised, which is pretty much what is likely to happen. The public should be satisfied that such assistance is deserved and, in order to do so, certain information, some of which could be of private and confidential nature, must be requested and divulged.
There is, for instance, information making rounds on various platforms that the late Governor was in fact a very wealthy and philanthropic man, who couldn’t have failed to do the ultimate planning. They go further and claim that, far from facing homelessness in Kampala, the late has left a number of properties littering prime Kampala city locations from which the family could choose to live – they allege the late’s ownership of properties on Mabua Road in Kololo, Kawalya Kaggwa Close, Kololo, Kololo Hill Drive and a property in Bunga. The wife is said to own a building on Kampala Road. They also alleged that the late also owned properties in central London, in the UK.
The ownership of an island and a farm outside Kampala doesn’t seem to be disputed and whether such assets could be used on private business terms to secure a house in Kampala, if the family really must live in Kampala is something the decision-makers could look into before the public is asked accept a charge on their taxes. Whatever the case, we all Ugandans are in this together and assistance should be offered where it is established that the ask is meritorious and absolutely deserving. We all wish each other nothing but comfort in these eventualities and moreso if the resources can permit. May the Almighty God guide the family through this sorrowful and trying period and may the soul of the late Governor rest peacefully!
The writer is a Multilingual Human Rights Practitioner, formerly at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International in London for over 20 years and now Legal and Human Rights Consultant.
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