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To Have Or Not To Have A Ugandan CEO At A Top Bank :: Uganda Radionetwork

To Have Or Not To Have A Ugandan CEO At A Top Bank

This debate is neither isolated nor new, as similar complaints, comments and reactions have persisted over the choice of heads of hotels, commercial banks, and to a lesser extent, telecommunications companies.
Former Stanbic Uganda CEOs Patrick Mweheire and Anne Juuko reunite at SBG East Africa in Nairobi
Members of Parliament have caused a debate on how much of the country's corporate sector should be headed by foreign managers, and whether this is really relevant.

The Ugandan Parliament on Tuesday drew mixed reactions from the public following their debate on the appointment of the head of the Ugandan banking subsidiary of South African owned Stanbic Bank Group.

This debate is neither isolated nor new, as similar complaints, comments and reactions have persisted over the choice of heads of hotels, commercial banks, and to a lesser extent, telecommunications companies.

But it has also extended low-level positions from waiting in hotels and restaurants to machine operations in factories and road construction, with a reasoning that these jobs can ably be done by Ugandans.

The National Content Policy came in handy to ring-fence jobs to not less than a set percent for foreign owned companies in different sectors. Past reports have indicated that foreign employees are preferred because of their better work ethic, commitment and trustworthiness compared to their Ugandan counterparts.

The debate in Parliament rotated around reports that the Bank of Uganda had rejected the appointment of a CEO of Stanbic Bank Uganda who was to replace Anne Juuko who, on April 1, took on another job as the SBG Regional Head Global Markets, sitting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Her former role has since been filled by Samuel Mwogeza, the Executive Head, Personal and Private Banking at Stanbic Uganda, in acting capacity.Parliament was stired by Paul Omara, MP for Otuke County, after he asked Parliament to back the decision by the Central Bank requiring Stanbic to hire a Ugandan national as the next CEO, claiming that Uganda had qualified people for the job.

His assertion was based on the fact that Stanbic, the largest in Uganda by asset and market share,  people with qualifications to take up the job, played a crucial role in the country's financial sector, apart from the job being "such a lucrative post"."Standard Bank Group and Stanbic Bank might not have explored opportunities of Ugandans capable of running that bank, but I believe they are there. Therefore, my request is for this House to associate ourselves with the position of the Central Bank that the Standard Bank Group and Stanbic Uganda’s board should explore opportunities for Uganda human resources to run Stanbic Bank," said Omara.

In his support on the Omara submission, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa said he supported the rejection of the "appointed non-Ugandan CEO" because "When the Bank performs well, now they want to take it back themselves. Otherwise, let them give us a swap, let a Ugandan be the Managing Director in another country then they come here.” 

BoU has not made their decision public, not has the reason for their supposed decision been stated. He reminisces the performance of Patrick Mweheire who was the first Ugandan to head the bank since it's take over by the Standard Bank Group and his successor, Juuko, as having rebuilt the glory of the former state-owned Uganda Commercial Bank.

"Now the question of bringing in a non-Ugandan to a Bank which we entrusted our biggest assets and most of our money, you would ask yourself why? If Ugandans were performing badly, you would have an issue," he reasoned. 

"There is no foreigner who can go to Kenya and become a Managing Director of the Bank. In South Africa where Stanbic is coming from, there is no foreigner who is the Managing Director of any Bank, why Uganda?” he claimed.

The Minister for Public Service, Wilson Mukasa Muruli, said it was a common practice to recruit foreigners in positions where the desired proficiency was lacking locally. He then also said he was in support of the move by the Central Bank.

A number of Ugandan professionals have over the years been employed by multinational corporations to head subsidiaries or departments in other countries, just like is the case with other nationals.

MP Omara, himself a retired banking executive, was employed by Standard Bank Group in different executive positions in Uganda, Malawi, and South Africa, before being appointed acting CEO Stanbic Bank, Tanzania. Others have worked as CEOs of telecoms. 

The South African-based MTN posted Philip Besiimire as MTN South Sudan CEO, before the recently retired Gordian Kyomukama took over. The latter has now been replaced by Ali Monzer, who has been Chief a Technical Officer, MTN Uganda. Anne Juuko, herself, who has been CEO for almost four years at Stanbic Uganda, was Vice President City Bank Kenya Ltd and later Head of Corporate and Investment Banking at Standard Bank Namibia, before returning to Uganda in 2020.

Last year, East African Breweries Ltd appointed Mark Ociti, Managing Director, Kenya Breweries Ltd. He had also served the same role at Serengeti Breweries Ltd in Tanzania.

There are also fears that this might have far-reaching effects on the employment sector in the region, with other countries reciprocating against Uganda, while others say the move contravenes the East African Community treaty on free movement of labour.

The Central Bank, as a regulator, has a role to play in the management of its regulated financial institutions, though it does not directly get involved in the appointment of the managers.

"We do due diligence on top managers and board members appointed before we give approval. Our role is to ensure a stable financial industry though regulating, controlling, and controlling the RFIs according to the Bank of Uganda Act," said an official who said is not yet authorised to talk about the Stanbic CEO appointment process.

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