By Andrew Irumba
Just like in the Bible, messages of strong emphasis and attachment would be directed to a particular target audience or persons. This was to ensure that the intended persons or group surely got the message. The messenger had to ensure that he returned with a reply back to the one who sent the first letter as assign the message ‘reached’. They would not accept verbal communication, you atleast had to improvise to an extent of writing on a stone! That’s how serious communication was.
Now, two thousand and eighteen (2018) years later after the death of Jesus Christ, the pearl of Africa-Uganda is so far blessed to revive such a strong spirit in the likes of ‘Saints’- Irine Mulyagonja Kakooza and Emanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, just incase you missed the likes of ‘The 1st and 2nd letters of St.Paul to the Corinthians, First Epistle to the Corinthians, Stephanas, Chloe and Apollos letters to St.Paul!
In this, the Bible quotes thus; “Paul wrote this letter to correct what he saw as erroneous views in the Corinthians church. Several sources informed Paul of conflicts within the church at Corinth.(Appolos Acts:1, Paul 1:11,16:17).
For starters, few weeks ago the Governor Bank of Uganda Prof.Emanuel Tumusiime Mutebile made some changes as head of the central Bank as mandated by the constitution.
In the changes, he appointed and disappointed several workers. One those that saw his axe was former director incharge of Banks supervision Justine Bagyenda who had been on leave.
Though others accepted the changes and moved on, Bagyenda challenged the decision by Governor to have her sacked by running to IGG Irine Mulyagonja Kakooza asking her office to stop the ‘illegal’ action of having her disgracefully dismissed from the central bank.
Indeed, Mulyagonja could swung into action and wrote a strong worded letter INSTRUCTING the no-nosense Governor Mutebile to halt any plans of firing Ms. Bagyenda until she (IGG) DIRECTS otherwise! It’s this letter that has now caused a world war 111 between Mulyangoja and Governor Mutebile!
In no-mincing words, the tough talking, tough looking, no-nosense Mutebile reffered to Irine’s letter as ‘redundant’ and vowed to continue with his earlier decisions at the bank!
“We have reviewed the contents of the above-said communication and now write to object in the strongest terms your directive therein, stopping the board of directors from ratifying the actions and decisions taken by the Governor in relation to the appointments and transfers. We reiterate our previous position in our letter dated 6 March 2018, regarding the validity of the appointments but we must add that the Inspectorate does not have the mandate to give direction to the Bank of Uganda.” wrote back Mr.Mutebile to IGG Irine Mulyangoja.
Mutebile also copied the same letter to H.E the President,Rt.Hon.Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, Rt.Hon.Prime minister Ndugu Ruhakana Rugundam, minister of Finance,Planning ans Economic Development, Attorney General,Auditor General, Internal Auditor General, All members of Board ,BoU and the Board secretary,BoU.
Mrs. Bagyenda was in a February 7 reshuffle and replaced with Dr Tumubweine Twinemanzi, a former Director of Industry Affairs and Content (Economic affairs) at Uganda Communications Commission (UCC). Several other staff were also affected by the changes.
However, Bagyenda is reported to have objected to the changes and refused to hand over office. Along with other unnamed staff, it is believed that Bagyenda appealed to the IGG, arguing that, among other issues, the said staff changes had been illegally done, since Mr. Mutebile had acted without the authority of BoU’s Board of Directors.
The petition was also copied to the Parliamentary committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE).
The IGG, Mrs. Irene Mulyagonja Kakooza then, in her March 12th letter, wrote directing the BoU Board of Directors not to “ratify any actions or decisions taken by the Governor on or around February 7, 2018 in relation to the impugned appointments and transfers until such time as the investigations by the Inspectorate has been concluded or until her office directs otherwise.”
Probably aware that BoU would invoke its constitutional independence, Mulyagonja further wrote that although she was aware of the independence, this would only stand “where the Bank is deemed to be acting in good faith and in accordance with the law, relevant regulations and policies and the principles of natural justice.” In Mutebile’s response letter, he wonders how Mulyagonja could have already passed judgment to Mutebile’s decisions ‘not in good faith and outside the law’ as she claims yet she said she was coming to investigate! That would mean she already passed judgment even before investigating.
Article 162 (2) of the Constitution, provides that: “In performing its functions, the Bank of Uganda shall conform to this Constitution but shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.”
Mutebile also made sarcastic attacks on the IGG’s attempts to interpret Article 162 as “incorrect” as “it purports to read new provisions in a clear constitutional provision.”
“The Article in question is clear, unequivocal and unambiguous on the independence of the Bank of Uganda and the fact that Bank of Uganda is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority and therefore no outsider, including your office can interfere with the decisions of the Bank of Uganda,” said Mutebile.
“The raison d’etre of the Independence is not difficult to fathom. The purpose is to ensure that the Bank of Uganda is credible, decisive and to ensure macro-economic stability and confidence in the market. This can only be achieved if the Bank of Uganda is free from external influence, direction or control. Your impugned directive to the Board not to ratify the Governor’s decisions, if implemented would have a catastrophic effect on the financial sector of Uganda and the economy at large,” reads part of Mutebile’s letter to IGG.
Mutebile also told the IGG not to mistake BoU’s earlier communication with her office regarding the staff changes as attempts to seek approval but rather a formality and a good practice with a sister institution.
“Our letter of 6 March 2018 was to clarify a position and bring your office as a sister institution of Government up to speed with the Bank of Uganda’s internal procedures regarding recruitment. It was in no way meant to subject the Bank of Uganda to your office’s control because that would be unconstitutional,” he said.
“The Bank of Uganda shall safeguard its Independence and guarantee a robust and sound financial system founded on the pillars of independence in decision making and reputational integrity. Your presumption of bad faith as a basis to take over the Board’s role presupposes you have already formed an opinion, which makes an investigation ‘redundant’. But more importantly, this presumption of bad faith undermines the Bank of Uganda reputational integrity,” Mutebile further wrote.
Previous Court Rulings On IGG’s Powers
Mutebile took time to remind Mulyagonja, a lawyer and a former judge, about previous court rulings on the powers of the IGG, arguing that the Central Bank’s independence is a “widely accepted” principle that “has been followed by all institutions of Government in the recent past.”
“Neither His Excellency, the President nor the Parliament of Uganda have ever so brazenly directed the Board of Directors or the Governor in the manner set out in your letter. Even the Judiciary has been very careful to protect the Independence of the Bank of Uganda,” fumed Mutebile.
“We wish to point out that we are fully cognizant of your powers but we are aware that those powers have been subject to judicial interpretation,” said Mutebile.
Mutebile among other cases quoted the Livercot Impex Ltd & Another v Attorney General & Another (MISC. CAUSE NO. 173 OF 2010)  UGHC 22 (17 February 2012) in which the High Court reviewed directives of the IGG to the Uganda Land Commission.
In the ruling, Hon. Justice Eldad Mwangusya ruled that regardless of whatever powers the Inspectorate of Government derives under the Constitution, it had did not have “power to reverse a decision of the Uganda Land Commission which is also established under Article 237 of the Constitution and derives its power from Article 239 of the Constitution.”
“I also do not think that the IGG can reverse the decisions of the Commissioner Land Registration who derives her authority from the Registration of Titles Act,” ruled Mwangusya.
Basing on this ruling, Mutebile wrote that: “It is worth noting that the Uganda Land Commission does not have the same constitutional independence and protection as the Bank of Uganda.”
The Governor also told the IGG of the previous attempts to by her office to “interfere with the decisions of the Board of the Uganda Development Bank” that were again shot down by the High Court.
“Your ability to issue directives on staff matters to a Board of Directors was extensively reviewed by the High Court in MC 303 of 2013, (Patricia Ojangole & 4 others vs Attorney General). It is worth noting that the Uganda Development Bank is not a constitutionally established entity and does not enjoy the independence extended to the Bank of Uganda and yet that Board was protected from your interference by the Court,” Mutebile wrote.
In the above case, the IGG had issued directives to the Board of the Uganda Development Bank stopping them from dismissing certain officers of the bank who had been accused of corruption.
“You had purportedly taken this action in favor of those employees pursuant to your Constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Inspectorate of Government Act. The Uganda Development Bank had claimed that your actions were likely to affect its performance. You have taken a similar route against the Bank of Uganda, a constitutional body whose independence is guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, and is therefore much more protected than UDB, for obvious reasons,” wrote Mutebile.
In his ruling, Hon Mr. Justice Musota Stephen among others, held that the IGG’s directives were “illegal and an abuse of its powers as it seeks to exert influence on the board to exercise its discretionary powers” and therefore could not be allowed to stand.
Those close to Mulyagonja intimated to this reporter last night on condition of anonymity that the recent scandalous revelations of the alleged illegal Billions of money found on Bagyenda’s Accounts in DTB and Backlays banks have also greatly put her between a rock and a hard place as an ant-corruption crusader. Because her very own office (IGG) is first of all required by law to investigate the source of such moneys on Bagyenda’s accounts before minding about how she left BoU.
“She may look ‘funny’ trying to fault Mutebile before she finds out what could have informed his decisions against her, what if money laundering was one of the reasons? Remember she has been a board member at Financial Intelligence Authority. She is capable of using her influence. So Mulyagonja has some work to do first, before she returns to Mutebile, because Mutebile is trying to put his house in order as per his mandate, an insider intimated to this reporter.