Monday, June 17, 2013

A FOOL AND HIS MONEY ARE SOON PARTED


 
Last week it was revealed that more than a 100 properties believed to belong to former city socialites Shanita Namuyimbwa (Bad Black) and Meddie Ssentongo had been ceased by court.

The seizure was ordered following a case last year in which the two former high fliers were convicted of fraud. They were sentenced to jail terms but also ordered to refund sh11b.

The properties include buildings and land in prime locations in Uganda, UK, US, cars and bank accounts.

The scope of the investments would be impressive by any standards, but it is even more so when you consider Meddie and Bad Black’s humble beginnings as barber and alleged lady of the night respectively.

This pair has thrown the rule book of wealth creation out of the top floor window. In the space of less than five years they managed to accumulate billions of shillings in properties and by the look of it they paid cash!

To put this in perspective. A salary earner who grosses sh100m a year earns a monthly salary of about sh8m therefore to earn one billion a year you would therefore earn just under sh85m a month.

It is safe to say that you would be in the top five salary earners in this town with a salary like that; More than executives who have slogged through hours of classroom time, survived years of corporate politics, fended off numerous boardroom assaults on their position and are now looking forward to hundreds of millions of shillings in gratuity and pension from their decades of savings with NSSF and their in-house provident funds when they retire.

So these “kids” short circuited the process and in less than five years started, caught up and overtook all these venerable, hardworking and wisened executives? All the while leaving it up in our night clubs and bars on a daily basis, giving new meaning to the term burning the midnight oil.

But forget Bad Black and her side kick Meddie, they are actually just a figment of a larger problem in our society.

First of all serious questions have to be asked about Mr David Greenhalgh, what does he do? Where does he come from? What kind of business is he running that seems to have survived a $5m loss and is presumably still standing? And that he lost it to business associates – to use the term very loosely, with no prior experience in even running a one million shilling business ( I am probably understating the value of a barber shop or a ….!)?

That aside, so these billions were being funneled through our financial system with no questions asked by the industry or security?

To stretch the logic a bit further this, Uganda’s answer to Bonny and Clyde, judging by the way their property acquisitions were spread around the city may have been the single reason land speculation became such a hot potato in the last several years?

But okay, let’s take their story with a sack of salt, let’s try and conjure up a scenario where we could make the billions they have made in five years. What would we sell? Who would we sell it to? What would be our profit margins?

Think about it let’s say we sell a kabalagala at sh200 to the 1.4 billion Chinese, we would gross sh280b. Assuming an ambitious 5% profit margin that would net us sh14b! Even with such an incredulous hypothetical situation we would only just scrape through, with a few billions to spare!

Jokes aside, what does this say about our society and country?

To begin with because their ostentatious display of wealth Black and Meddie become the role models for impressionable youth in the night spots that they patronized. We will have an army of kids who think being “shrewd” beats being honest, that the quick buck is better than the honest shilling made from hard and diligent work and investment over years, that life is to be leaved at 100 kph rather than at a more staid speed, which is sustainable and replicable.

Forget the youth, this cancer would soon coopt other age groups, who for fear of being laughed out of this town for not getting with the program, would join the band wagon.

You have to wonder about a country that allows such shenanigans to blossom and flourish in full sight of everybody. Where the earnings from organized crime are celebrated and the villains turn heros.

But then again maybe I am just a grumpy old man, stuck in an older time who cannot handle the pace of modern day living, maybe?

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