President Museveni unleashed his frustration at the shameless exploitation of the country’s young people by moneylenders charging an astonishing 20% interest rate every month. Museveni, who has held onto power for decades, finally realized the magnitude of this financial burden on his citizens, seemingly wondering if there was anyone keeping tabs on these loan sharks.
Museveni took to his social media platform to announce his plans. He claimed to have ordered the Minister of Finance to draft some obscure “statutory instrument” within a fortnight. Apparently, this magical document is supposed to regulate the interest rates these lenders can charge. It’s almost comical how long it took for Museveni to notice this problem, considering he’s been ruling since the dawn of time.
The president went on to express his disbelief, asking who on earth had allowed these financial predators to operate. Frankly, it’s astounding that he’s just realizing the impact of these loan sharks on the mental health and financial well-being of his country’s youth. One might wonder if he’s been living under a rock for the past few decades.
Museveni’s newfound concern comes as reports of fraudulent money lenders and shady microfinance institutions continue to dupe unsuspecting Ugandans into signing their financial lives away. It’s almost as if these lenders have made a sport out of snatching collateral security from desperate borrowers.
Surprisingly, the Ugandan government claims to have registered almost 1,500 of these vultures under the Uganda Microfinance Regulatory Authority. One has to wonder what this regulatory authority has been doing all this time if they couldn’t see the problem right under their noses.
And as if this weren’t enough, Museveni’s recent outburst isn’t the first time he’s cried wolf about the outrageous loan charges in his country. Apparently, he raised the issue during some retreat at the National Leadership Institute, probably when he had nothing better to do. He even asked the Attorney General to explain why there isn’t already a law in place to regulate these predatory lending rates.
Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament, Anita Among, threatened to terminate all MoUs that money lenders had with a bunch of legislators. She accused these lenders of ‘harassing’ MPs with their sky-high interest rates. It’s a bit rich for lawmakers to suddenly realize the problem when it’s their own pockets being picked.
The Bank of Uganda seems to be the only entity with a somewhat rational explanation. They claim that lending rates have averaged around 21% since the ’90s because financial institutions have hefty overheads to cover. Of course, to cover these costs, they need to squeeze the life out of borrowers with exorbitant interest rates. Experts have been saying this for years, but it seems like Museveni needed a Twitter rant to see the light.