A section of lawmakers have made a strident case for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa to be investigated by a committee of Parliament rather than the Attorney General (AG) over claims that he received a$500,000 bribe from a Chinese company.
The clamor yesterday came a day after President Yoweri Museveni for the first time publicly spoke about the case, in a New York court in which a judge convicted former Hong Kong home affairs minister, Patrick Ho Chi-ping for allegedly bribing Kutesa with $500,000 and offering $2m to Chad’s President Idriss Deby.
Patrick Ho was found guilty after a one-week trial before US district judge Loretta A. Preska in the southern district of New York of one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), four counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and one count of committing international money laundering Museveni told the media on Monday while launching the International Anti-corruption Week that Kutesa had told him the money was for a charity organisation.
The President revealed that he had directed the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, to probe the matter. However, MPs Theodore Ssekikubo (Rwemiyaga County), Medard Sseggona (Busiro East) and Paul Mwiru(Jinja East) amid foot stumping said it would be a wild goose chase for Kutesa to be investigated by the AG as the President’s name has been mentioned in the same case.
“This case involves Kutesa and the President. The President is instructing his appointee (AG) to conduct investigations which might lead to himself. It’s better for Parliament to investigate this matter,” Mwiru said.
Earlier Ssekikubo had called for the Executive to issue a statement on the swirling allegation against Kutesa in the wake of Patrick Ho’s conviction.
“The matter concerning Kutesa does not involve and end with him as an individual. It is a matter that has sullied the name of Uganda and its important that Government issues a statement on the same,” Ssekikubo, who has had numerous political face offs with Kutesa, said.
Recalling the decision by Museveni to order then state minister for labour Herbert Kabafunzaki to step aside in 2017 as investigations over allegations against him of soliciting forbribes raged, Ssekikubo called for Kutesa to follow suit by citing what he called “following set precedent”.
However, attempts by Byaruhanga to persuade MPs to allow him table a report over the bribery allegations when the House ends its pending recess fell on deaf ears. When the issue of Kutesa allegedly taking bribesfirst came into the public sphere, Kadaga nipped in the bud attempts by MPs to debate or take action on account of un concluded litigation.
Now that there was a court judgment and a conviction, Kadaga was wedged between a rock and a hard place over MPs’ clamor. In the end, she directed Byaruhanga to give the House an interim report tomorrow without out rightly ruling out a debate over the matter. Those interested in the matter,Kadaga said, are at liberty to table a motion in the House.