Yesterday evening, one of the longest-serving technocrats in President Museveni’s administration, Keith Muhakanizi, passed away at the age of 64.
After years of battling illness, the Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and former Secretary of the Treasury passed away in a Milan hospital.
Muhakanizi, who was the last surviving member of a privileged league that included the late Chris Kassami and the late Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, worked at the Ministry of Finance for decades after graduating from Makerere University.
In July 2021, President Museveni appointed Muhakanizi Permanent Secretary of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM).
As a macro-economist and expert in public sector management, Mr Muhakanizi contributed to the formulation of, among others, the National Development Plans, the Public Finance and Management Act, and the Bank of Uganda Act.
In addition, he played a crucial role in revenue mobilisation and introduced commitment control systems that governed the development and execution of economic policies at the Ministry of Finance for more than a decade.
As a fresh graduate economist, Muhakanizi ascended the ranks to the prestigious position of Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury, succeeding the late Kassami, who retired in 2013 and died in a Nairobi hospital in 2016.
Mr Jim Mugunga, one of the longest-serving Ministry of Finance Spokespersons, used the same words to pay tribute to a man who played a central role in the formulation and implementation of economic reforms that restored Uganda’s macroeconomic stability and other economic reforms last night.
Mr Mugunga referred to Muhakanizi as “a true public servant, a professional economist, a very good manager, a stickler, an administrator, and a parent.”
Muhakanizi served as a board member for multiple organisations. He served on the board of the Bank of Uganda, was the chairman of the East African Development Bank and the chairman of the Housing Finance Bank Limited, and collaborated with the various ministries, agencies, and government departments to improve accountability and budget discipline.
As PS in the OPM, the ministry responsible for coordinating, monitoring, and supervising government programmes and projects, Mr. Muhakanizi wrote in one of his last memos on the iron sheets scandal, instructing subordinates on the proper procedures of official communication as outlined in the standing orders (Uganda Public Service Standing Orders 2021) and management of public resources.
In a circular dated February 15, he stated, “Requisitions [to stores] from user departments must be initiated or endorsed by the department chief prior to submission to the accounting officer. When requests originate from ministers/political leaders, local government, or other constituents, the responsible department must conduct technical evaluations prior to approval by the accounting officer.”