The good, the bad and ugly in Uhuru’s demonetisation
SEE ALSO :The curse of handshakeBut currency is an opportunity to honour the national heroes of a country. Who said that that honour should be exclusive to presidents? This was a narrow interpretation. By now we should have had Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Tom Mboya and Mekatilili Menza on money. Now we will never have Wangari Maathai celebrated on a note. Even Eliud Kipchoge should be on a coin one day. Iko nini? Images of heroes from athletics to academia ought to be immortalised. Anyway, that is that. The shrewdness of Uhuru in this demonetisationproject is in the unnecessary invocation of a constitutional provision. He took a vague idea and used it for his own end: fighting corruption. Like a consummate politician, he is effortlessly demonstrating commitment and inventiveness. Even more shrewdly, he is laying traps. The Madaraka Day surprise is perhaps not targeted to corruption as a whole, but also to individuals in particular. Those that Mutahi Ngunyi said would have to spend 33 million a day for the next four months to get rid of their ‘badmoney’.
SEE ALSO :Uhuru to open Naivasha SGR stationThe ‘daringness’ of Uhuru is in the big risk he has taken in this demonetisation operation. He did not have to do this. He could have made it another President’s problem. He did not have to impose the October 1 timeline to render the Sh1,000 note invalid. And in the process create a potential logistical nightmare. The Constitution does not require that money with portraits be phased out. There is no statutory requirement for an overhaul. The law, anyway cannot be applied retrospectively. Huge macro-economic undertakings like these are where Murphy’s Law always applies: Everything that could go wrong will go wrong. Whichever way you look at it, the decision to demonetise the Sh1,000 note is bold. Especially when you consider that the Sh1,000 note constitutes 83 per cent of the total currency in circulation. How many African countries have overhauled their currencies successfully? This could also be reckless. Operationally, it is a massive undertaking; a sensitive operation that has the potential of thrusting the Kenyan economy into turbulence if not carefully executed. Uhuru is actually taking a step of faith. [email protected]
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