Uganda’s Central Bank, the once revered public institution, widely viewed as the epitome of good corporate governance and a stickler for astuteness in the banking sector, has suffered a fair share of bad press
over the years without subsiding.
From the infamous Basajjabalaba multi-billion award, to purchase of sukhois, allegations of printing money for elections, OPM, pens, Justine Bagyenda ouster and Manzi’s shady entry, the COSASE damning revelations, the in-house succession battles and most recently the payment system ‘breakdown’, the storm can only continue raging.
In such tough times where the public views the bank as tainted and unworthy, and with the ugly spotlight continuing to shine, it is amazing to see the leadership wearing poker faces, looking unscathed and announcing positive economic indicators.
And the self-proclaimed economic analysts cannot estimate how much toll bad press has taken on an institution whose mandate is to ensure financial stability and whip commercial banks.
The role seems to have widened a bit to being a transaction house where shady deals are signed off.
Why is the public so hysterical while the accused look steadfast in the face of a storm?
This is just one in a myriad of questions that arise as the BOU episodes continue. And why has the media turned all their cameras to the melodrama in Mutebile’s house?
Could the crisis be a storm in a tea cup?
Who is having the last laugh? Does Bank of Uganda still have any moral authority to call anyone to order?
And what do we expect next as the storm clouds gather? What does the BOU crisis of confidence mean for all other sectors?
While we ponder on these and more questions, I want to compare Bank of Uganda with any other corporate brand in deep waters.
It’s time organisations adopted a reputation crisis management strategy to emerge from such trouble.
One quickest relief comes with acknowledging there is a crisis and confronting it with the best public relations arsenal.
But again you need to study its genesis. Quite often, most storms, like the case of the Central Bank, are born out of a sense of complacence and lack of foresight.
Maintaining a thick skin while you are being hit by bombshells from every corner is the highest level of abnormality.
Mutebile, Kasekende and others need to find a room somewhere in the bank and cry off this rage lest they’ll burst in denial.
There comes a time when bosses become too comfortable and averse to any kind of trouble alerts.
Traditionally, the Central Bank has enjoyed an above the ordinary reproach syndrome that until when all the evil was exposed, it was almost a taboo or a cardinal sin to cast Mutebile and his ilk in bad light.
The larger than life aura he carried with him could lead him to brand legislators as typical potato growers who lacked an ounce of knowledge on the economy and any attempt to disturb his peace would cause tremors in the financial market.
The author is a journalist and public speaker