By Belguin Prosper Lumu
I will begin by saying that, he who merely knows right principles is not equal to him who loves them. The principles we live by, in business, in social life, and in leadership, are the most important part of the future we want that leads to happiness and a show of integrity.
We need to be careful, upon achieving happiness, not to lose the virtues which have produced it.
Sometimes our governing principles are even threatened when we face sadness, we tend to lose such principles and then take wrong decisions out of emotions. This is the case in parliament now.
Parliament is in a state where everyone feels sad that Governor Mutebile is dead and no more. A man that has served Uganda diligently for 21 or more years and kept the economy humming even amidst the toughest storms.
At this very juncture, the widow (Betty Mutebile) allegedly put in a request to retain the house her family had occupied which is assigned to the Governor of Bank of Uganda. Her supporters like Deputy Speaker Anita Among arguing this would be a worthy appreciation for his years of service.
I keep wondering, if by some miracle Mutebile came back to life, how would he feel about the type of debate that is going on about him?
Whereas I am broken by the death of the good governor, I highly suspect that if Mutebile got wind of this debate, he would absolutely disagree with his wife on the matter.
First, it undermines the set principles of leadership that govern the office he has been holding with his entire heart. The rules are clear that the house is to be used as accommodation for the sitting governor.
Secondly it makes him look so petty, a beggar and a selfish elite. I am sure Mutebile would not want this memory about him. It does not matter whether the house will have been given to him following legal procedure, but the masses (taxpayers) will have a different interpretation of it, and Mutebile would never want that to be the last memory about him.
This is where parliament needs to go back to their governing principles as trusted leaders and a trusted institution and stand firm on building the right foundation for Uganda if the country is to progress forward. We shall not keep making exceptions out of emotions yet incurring more costs on taxpayers.
Take an example of what President Museveni did when the late D/IGP Paul Loketch died, he was requested by the mourners especially the family, to promote the deceased to the rank of General (Four star General), but the President explained why he could not and stood firm to the governing principles of what it takes to achieve that full rank. He however promoted him to the next possible rank which still at the end of the day was welcomed by the masses. I suspect that he imagined that if for every army officer that dies the family makes the same requests, what will his explanation be for granting some and rejecting others? In his wisdom, he realized that it was best to stick to the governing principles, and that was the right decision.
This is my ultimate solution and suggestion to this joke of a request;Uganda’s parliament should turn down the request by the widow and just like Museveni did, cite reasons for turning down the request.
Secondly, for purposes of appreciation of the governor through his wife, everyone in government starting with the President as the country’s leader, to Ministers to MPs (especially those in support of the widow’s request), take a portion of their personal income and set up a deposit fund to construct the governor’s wife the much-needed house in Kampala but please protect the original governor’s residence for the next governor. Please, the key word here is personal income not tax payer money. The only time Ugandans will accept to use taxpayer money will be if they are told that the money is going to be used to renovate the governor’s house in preparation for the next governor.
Thirdly, the parliament should make sure that the widow and the family continue to promptly receive all benefits they are entitled to after the demise of Mutebile, because this man surely did a good job.
Fourthly, the MPs should not hide under the narrative that the house was given to the widow following procedure and that so, everything should be okay. It will not be okay because a governing principle will have been broken to fulfill an unfair request. And this will set a bad precedent for all other leaders hoping they can always train their families to make such demands when they are dead.
This should, however, teach other leaders in government to learn to prepare for their families rather than subjecting their families to beggary in addition to the pain of the loss of a loved one.
Having said this, I am made to believe that the late Governor Mutebile planned for his life well and probably already had a a retirement home somewhere in Munyonyi (western Uganda).
This sense of entitlement is a cancer we have to cure, by our institutions staying true to governing principles.
May the soul of Professor Emmanuel Mutebile rest in eternal peace. He will be remembered as a great and approachable leader.
This opinion is by Belguin Prosper Lumu, a market intelligence & strategy expert and the CEO of Young & Free International. Follow him on Twitter via @belguinprosper or more about him via www.belguinprosper.webs.com