BOU GOV RACE: IMF’s Ating Ego, Kasekende, Muhakanizi, Kiiza in race
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | President Yoweri Museveni is looking to replace his long-serving Bank of Uganda Governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile. The Independent can exclusively report that Mutebile’s replacement is likely to be a totally unexpected choice.
Highly placed sources at State House, who could only speak on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter said the process of vetting the next governor of the central bank kicked off in mid-April with Museveni’s head-hunters contacting some of those in the running.
Mutebile’s job is the most coveted in Uganda because of the prestige attached to it. The governor is also the highest paid government worker—earning over Shs53 million per month according to a May 2015 report by House Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). The position also comes with a lot of independence to exercise unfettered influence on the direction of the national political economy.
As in the past, Museveni is looking at individuals of impeccable character and strong finance management pedigree to match. It is, therefore, not surprising that some of the top lieutenants at BoU and the Finance Ministry are candidates.
Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende and Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi are in the race for obvious reasons, while former Director Economic Affairs at the Finance Ministry, Lawrence Kiiza, is an unexpected though not surprising candidate. The real surprise candidate being considered is little known Micheal Ating-Ego, who is a Deputy Director at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Insiders say Museveni is looking for someone who can restore local and international confidence in the central bank whose reputation has over the last few months suffered due to multiple scandals.
Mutebile, who was first appointed to head BoU in 2001, is in the second year of his five-year contract, which was renewed in January 2016. If the governor’s contract is allowed to run it will end in 2021 at which point Mutebile would have made 20 years as the head of BoU.
For most of this time, Mutebile has been recognised locally and internationally as a performer. The American (USA) Biological Institute recognised Mutebile as an outstanding contributor to Uganda in 2009. In 2011 and 2013, the Africa Banker Magazine and African Investor Group (Ai), respectively, named him the Central Bank Governor of the Year in Africa.
And going by the central bank’s core strategic objectives upon which Mutebile likes his performance to be judged: controlling inflation, regulating the banking sector, and protecting overall stability of the financial sector, many might struggle to challenge his competence.
Apart from 2011 when inflation hit the highs of 30 percent, Mutebile has kept inflation in check for almost two decades—it currently is at 5.7 percent just about the target.
On regulation and supervision of banks, Mutebile likes to boast that although some private banks have collapsed under his watch, BoU has intervened effectively and avoided contagion of the sector and ensured the safety of customer deposits.
Based on this, Mutebile believes that BoU has succeeded in delivering on its core mandate of protecting depositors and the stability of the financial system.