Uganda: How Mutebile, the veteran central banker, changed Museveni’s thinking and rebuilt the economy

By Musinguzi Blanshe

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Posted on February 7, 2022 08:37

When Yoweri Kaguta Museveni captured power in 1986 after five years of guerilla fighting, there was no economy to inherit. How to resuscitate an economy shattered by civil war and political instability became a matter of intense debate. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, a hulking, bespectacled economist distinguished by his intellect, industriousness, bravado and unkempt beard led a team of economists that won the argument and shaped the direction of the economy.

In the wake of his passing this year, Mutebile’s intellectual energy and bold thinking will be much missed as the government faces another wave of socio-economic challenges such as youth unemployment, low investment and rising poverty rates.

Mutebile died in a Nairobi Hospital on 23 January. He was Africa’s longest serving Central Bank governor, in office for over two decades; second in the world to Romania’s Mugur Isarescu who has been in the post since 1990.

Mutebile didn’t go to the bush. He had been working for the government of Milton Obote – the regime that Museveni was fighting.

By the time Museveni captured power, Mutebile had risen to the position of permanent secretary for economic policy in the prime minister’s office. After Museveni’s arrival, he was transferred to the ministry of finance as permanent secretary.

Socialist or free market economy?

In 1984, while still leading

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