MPs Demand Minister Kutesa Resignation Over Bribery Allegations

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In short
A section of Members of Parliament have demanded for the immediate resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa following allegations that he received a bribe of 1.8 billion Shillings while serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

A section of Members of Parliament have demanded for the immediate resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa following allegations that he received a bribe of 1.8 billion Shillings while serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking to journalists at Parliament, legislators including Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding, Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo and Jie County MP Moses Bildad Adome expressed dismay at the happenings.

"It should be recalled that shortly after Kutesa's appointment, a number of us opposed and one of the things we mentioned was that this man is so grossly wrong that he may even sell chairs of the UN and people thought we were joking. Now time has come to vindicate us all, the best judge is time," said Karuhanga.

He said it is sad that very soon the country will see arrest warrants for Kutesa.

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According to details of a bribery case being prosecuted in the United States, Minister Kutesa received 1.8 billion Shillings payment to help a Chinese firm obtain business advantages including potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.

This allegation is contained in a complaint against the head of a Hong Kong-based NGO Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho, 68, and the former foreign minister of Senegal Cheikh Gadio, 61. The duo is accused of bribing high-level officials to help a Chinese oil and gas company to gain business advantages in Africa. 

Gadio was arrested in New York on Friday afternoon while Ho was arrested on Saturday. The two were charged in a Manhattan Federal Court on Monday with violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, international money laundering and conspiracy to commit both. 

According to the complaint, the defendants arranged bribes to secure business advantages for a Shanghai-based multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in the energy and financial sectors.

One of the schemes was relying on gifts paid to Kutesa who recently served as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

Ho allegedly paid a USD 500,000 (1.8 billion Shillings) bribe via wires transmitted through New York to an account designated by Minister Kutesa in Uganda. The bribe was paid on or about May 6, 2016, after Kutesa finished his term as president of the U.N. General Assembly, the complaint said. 
 
Ho also provided the Ugandan official with gifts and promises of future benefits, including offering to share the profits, the compliant further states. Prosecutors said the bribe was meant to secure business advantages for the energy company, which was not identified in court papers, and potential acquisition of a Ugandan bank.

The foreign affairs ministry yesterday explained the circumstances under which Kutesa interacted with Patrick Ho while serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly.

According to the Ministry, it's erroneous to link Kutesa to the bribery allegations saying that the Minister interacted with Ho in his official capacity as the President of the General Assembly.

Even with this statement by the foreign affairs ministry, MPs are still not convinced with Karuhanga recounting the 2012 oil bribery allegations in which Kutesa, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, and former internal affairs minister Hilary Onek were accused of receiving bribes from oil companies. 

The ministers, however, denied any wrongdoing and were later cleared by the parliamentary adhoc committee that investigated the bribery allegations.

With the new bribery allegations, MP Karuhanga says that Kutesa should resign and give Ugandans at least a chance of cleansing their country. 

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Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo also weighed in demanding President Yoweri Museveni's explanation following revelations that he received gifts and re-election support from a Chinese company that was seeking to gain business advantage in Uganda. 

The deal was reportedly brokered by Kutesa, and his wife, Edith Gasana. Kutesa reportedly sourced the support partly while serving as President of the United Nations General Assembly, during a visit to China in 2015.

Ssekikubo questioned how President Museveni is a beneficiary of money laundering when the law requires that political parties must account for the sources of funding.

The MP said that the happenings do not only impact on President Museveni and Minister Kutesa alone, but the entire country.

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Jie County MP Moses Bildad Adome described the allegations against Kutesa as greed.  

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In 1998 Kutesa, then serving as state minister for Investment, resigned as parliament prepared to censure him accusing him of benefiting from the sale of the former Uganda Airlines. His colleague, then primary education minister Jim Muhwezi was censured for mismanaging Universal Primary Education. The two were, however, never prosecuted and returned to cabinet after the 2001 elections.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.