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Mutebile survives coup at central bank

  • Fly on the wall at lunch between Mutebile and Kasekende

  • Heated top executive meeting

Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | It is 1:30 PM April 04. Governor Emanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, wearing a charcoal grey suit, white shirt and blue-checkered tie, is having lunch together with other bank executives in the Governors’ Dining located on the extreme end of the Eastern wing of the Central Bank building on Kampala Road. His gold-rimmed glasses hang perilously over his nose as he occasionally takes a glance at other officials while chatting with his neighbour, who is also his deputy, Louis Kasekende. The latter looks dapper in rim-less glasses, a dark-blue suit, white shirt, and matching tie.

The Governor likes to have lunch at his home. And although he has had some lunch dates with his deputy and other executives in the recent past, this has not happened much since Feb.8 when he transferred staff in a major shuffle that was seen as a snub of his deputy, some top executives and even board members.

That is part of the reason why the few top officials who are having lunch with the two men on the same table—albeit at a distance—are paying close attention.

A few who steal a glance from time to time look at the body language for indications of the situation between the two big men. Some hope to tap into what the two men are saying to each other to get a sense of direction of their relationship. The smiles appear genuine, the situation awkward.

Stakes are high. A board meeting is coming up the next day and there is anxiety over how the thorny issue of transfers of staff by Mutebile will be dealt with. Rumour is rife that several board members have conspired to walk out should Mutebile invite in his top appointee, TumubwineTwinemanzi, the Executive Director Banking Supervision who replaced the controversial Justine Bagyenda.

This is not the bank’s finest hour—BoU finds itself a subject of investigation by the Financial Intelligence Authority, the Inspector General of Government, Auditor General, and parliament— and intrigue within the walls of the bank is fuelling a fire that is razing its reputation which, the Governor has says is its most “critical resource”.

The members of staff know that Mutebile and Kasekende have just emerged from a heated meeting of top executives of the Bank.

 Fire over Independent article

That meeting started at 11:20AM in the Governor’s boardroom on the Seventh Floor—the same floor, where both the Governor and his Deputy sit.

Tumubwiine Twinemanzi ( L ), and Justine Bagyenda ( R )

On the face of it, the meeting was the regular gathering by the top Executive Committee also internally known as EXCOM, which comprises the Governor, his deputy, Bank Secretary, and all the Executive Directors.  Only Adam Mugume, the Executive Director Research did not attend.

But sources tell The Independent that at the centre of the meeting was issues surrounding an article we published in The Independent on March 30 titled `MutebileVsKasekende’ which lifted the lid off a silent fight between the two men and opposing loyal factions.

The article drew heavily from minutes of BoU board meetings, loads of internal memos, internal investigation reports and multiple interviews with insiders.

The leakage of these documents and willingness of top officials to talk openly to the press, The Independent understands, is part of a desire for major reforms at the bank.

The Independent shines a spotlight on this relationship and the intrigue at the central bank because it believes, revealing the same, advances open debate of the issues and possible resolution before they heavily undermine the ability of the central bank to play its critical roles in giving the country’s fragile economy a sense of direction.

The article stirred debate within the walls of the bank about their future and management reacted sharply.

A general memo that came the afternoon of April 04 criticised staff members who leak information and proclaimed institutional integrity and personal cordiality. The memo was later expanded and sent out to the press in the name of the Governor—stirring even further debate at the bank.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Mutebile reportedly told his lieutenants that a lot had been going and that the team needs to forge ahead and see how to work together.

Kasekende had spoken next, dwelling on lack of trust, a breakdown in communication, leakages of information and reluctance by staff to participate actively in discussions.

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