KAMPALA — Many people have reached out to me with their alarm, anxiety and fear of holding worthless Money in view of the legal opinion Counsel Fred Muwema gave to the public that the Money notes which were signed on by late Governor Professor Tumusiime Mutebile abated immediately upon his death. I beg to differ. Muwema’s doom-laden article was bound to engender public disquiet. The loss of public confidence in the Uganda currency that would follow would be disastrous.
This would be absurd if, the article’s suggestion was to be the case, that upon the death of an official like the Governor BOU, then the money they signed on ceased to be legal tender. That would be turning the law into a travesty. If this was the case, it would mean that the concept of perpetual succession doesn’t exist. That the citizens lost their money upon the death of the governor etc. This would cause individual and national economic losses of unimagined magnitude.
Fred Muwema’s resort to argue the concepts of living instruments to support his article further abstracted it from both reality and the law. It parochially misread the law and the reality. Such concepts do not apply where the law expressly provides for the situation as in this case.
The Bank of Uganda Act provides Under Section 5 that “the bank shall have all the powers pertaining to a legal person and may do all things necessary for better carrying out its functions. Under Section 7 (1) of the BOU Act, “The governing body of the bank shall be a board of directors consisting of— (a) the governor, who shall be the chairperson”. Under Section 7 (6) of the BOU Act, “If a member of the board dies or resigns or otherwise vacates.”
Under Section 20 (1) of the BOU Act, “The bank shall have the sole right to issue notes and coins; … to be passed as legal tender.” Under Section 21 of the BOU Act, “The bank shall determine the design of the bank notes issued by it, but no bank note shall bear in its design a portrait of a living person…”.
This provision makes it clear that the currency can bear the portrait of any dead person. It is only a living person’s portrait that it cannot bear. It therefore goes without saying that if it can bear the portrait of the dead person, its bearing of the signature of a dead person is legal.
When the Governor signed on the money, he did so as a Governor BOU and not an individual. The individual, Professor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile passed on, but the Governor BOU is a Statutory office which has perpetual succession. It continued. Thus, the death of an individual who is an officer of a body corporate like BOU does not affect the actions and decisions taken while when served and acted in the official position. This is because BOU as a corporate body enjoys perpetual succession. And it works and thinks through its officials. Therefore, the officials are its controlling minds as it is itself an abstract person that does not have a human mind as a human being does. This is the legal position.
The Bank of Uganda Act provides in sections 4 (1) that the functions of the bank shall be to formulate and implement monetary policy directed to economic objectives of achieving and maintaining economic stability. 4 (2) that the bank shall— (a) maintain monetary stability; … (c) issue currency notes and coins.
These provisions show both the seriousness and functions of the BOU. The economic function of
achieving and maintaining economic stability and monetary stability cannot be performed in a vacuum. It requires certainty and continuity. This includes the issued currency notes and coins. Tampering with any of those functions lightly, interrupting certainty and continuity in the currency would destroy economic stability and monetary stability.
The interpretation Act provides in section 22 that where any Act confers any power or imposes any duty, the power may be exercised and the duty shall be performed from time to time as occasion requires. And in Section 23 that “Where any Act confers a power on any person to do or enforce the doing of any act or thing, all such powers shall be understood to be also given as are reasonably necessary to enable the person to do or enforce the doing of the act or thing.”
The clear import of the above provisions is that once such power or duty has been performed by an office holders who was empowered to do so, it ceases being that individuals act but that of the institution or government, as the case may be. From the above discussion, it is clear that the Uganda currency that bears the BOU past Governor is valid legal tender. All the alarms raised about it at without basis.
Dr. James Akampumuza
Member International Advisory Board of the Round Table Publication (http://www.moot.org.uk)
Senior Lecturer, Makerere University Business School/Senior Partner, M/S Akampumuza & Co. Advocates
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