A Tower of Babel and Museveni’s creeping assault on State Institutions, Part II
In the first installation of this two-part series, senior writer Charles Kamya Ssentamu shows how Museveni in his insatiable greed connived with some obscure German firm – which had taken over Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation (UPPC) the government printer – to print Ugandan currency!
Luckily – at least temporarily – for the country, Bank of Uganda Governor Tumusiime Mutebile opposed, and succeeded in stopping Museveni’s highly suspicious scheme in its tracks. But anyone that knows Museveni knows that few things will stop the Ugandan ruler on a course of action he’s set his mind on. He wanted to print money and he would do it one way or another.
The current ongoing scandal in BoU; the highly suspicious accusations and counter-accusations regarding the extra Ushs 90 billion that arrived with a currency shipment of which it wasn’t part of the order, all point to Museveni shenanigans.
Bank of Uganda’s reputation is already in tatters thanks to a parliamentary inquiry into the shutting down of rogue banks, triggered by the seizure in 2016 and subsequent auction of Crane Bank late the same year. One way we arrived there, for instance, is through the actions of business mogul Sudhir Ruparelia. Protected by his close relationship to the first family, Ruparelia for years transferred depositor’s money to himself – until his actions threatened the entire financial sector.
Museveni grudgingly allowed the central bank to move in, though he was against dispossession of a man many believe to be his proxy in most corrupt business dealings. While governors of Uganda’s central bank have always had a difficult relationship with the country’s rulers, Mutebile appeared to have found a way around the conundrum.
It is an open secret that Museveni’s National Resistance Movement has no known source of income, yet it is a spendthrift that carelessly dishes out billions of shillings in any given year. Using one gimmick or another, towards election time excess money has always been injected into the economy for Museveni to buy his victories, without causing consequential distortions.
IN 2010, it was the National ID Project in which another German firm was given the $100 million deal but produced a grand total of 44 cards (forty-four) before going back home. More recently, overpriced highways and power stations built by companies selected by State House have been used to transfer money from the public to the yellow purse.
While that has worked well Museveni is no longer comfortable with that arrangement, with good reason. For years Mutebile’s health has been in decline and he appears to be rapidly heading towards a terminal situation. One has only to look at the change in his signature between 2004 and this week when he signed off an advertisement that appeared in local media, to appreciate the sense of urgency. The kidney dialysis sessions conducted from his Kololo residence have become longer, more frequent but less effective.
Museveni needs a plan B, but the Bretton Woods economist still militates against local printing of currency. That is why Museveni needs a new point man at the central bank and must find a way of easing Mutebile and his regime out of the way. History tells us that Museveni will actually get his way.
Analysts are of the view that the current scandal will be the perfect excuse to ease out Mutebile, and bring in a totally unprincipled Museveni crony.
Uganda Police is a very good example of how Museveni unscrupulously diverts institutions, to his personal use. After two decades of underfunding had turned Police into an empty relic, Museveni appointed mild-mannered Katumba Wamala, a Lt. General in the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces, as Inspector General of Police. Wamala was the first military head of the institution. Museveni justified his action by citing the force’s failure to fight crime and widespread internal corruption.
Lt. Gen Katumba Wamala’s harmless demeanor and the fact that he was a Muganda easily diffused any opposition to this blatant militarization of a civilian institution. Fast forward two years later. Faced with perennial underfunding and high public expectations, hat in hand, Wamala went on a begging round in Kampala seeking financial support from the corporate world.
He did secure enough funds to buy half a dozen patrol vehicles for a force that nominally required about 400 such units in the capital alone. This embarrassing episode handed Museveni the justification to ease Wamala out and replace him with Brigadier Kale Kayihura, who was also promoted to Lt. Gen.
With an election around the corner, Kayihura secured unprecedented funding for the force and even shuffled its ranks to fit in cadres he had crossed over with from the military.
The posture of the new force was soon to become apparent as Museveni orchestrated one of the most violent elections with the state visiting gruesome repression against supporters of the opposition. Clearly, Katumba Wamala had not understood the purpose of his appointment.
Kale Kayihura worked diligently at Museveni’s personal direction. The police budget expanded almost in equal proportion to his subversion of the law in the interest of the National Resistance Movement.
But when Kayihura was deemed to have outlived his usefulness – and with a close cabal of powerful people from “a certain ethnic group” around Museveni wary of the “Mufumbira”’s growing influence, therefore working to bring him down – Museveni threw Kayihura to the wolves.
What has happened to Police is what has happened to many important Ugandan institutions. Museveni has subverted them all to his personal purposes and whims.
He is doing exactly the same with Bank of Uganda. If in the process he completely undermines the nation’s currency, turning it into “Zimbabwe Dollar part 2”, too bad!
Museveni will just go ahead and do it.