Parliament turn guns on Minister Sam Kutesa

Members of Parliament are demanding for the resignation of Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa over his involvement in a bribery scandal involving a Chinese energy conglomerate, China Energy Company Ltd (CEFC China).

The onslaught is led by Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, a long time political foe to the embattled minister.

During Tuesday’s plenary sitting, Ssekikubo demanded for a government explanation before making calls for Kutesa to step down.

“The image of this country is in question because the corruption allegations against Hon Sam Kutesa, can we therefore as Parliament ask the Minister to step down?” Ssekikubo urged MPs.

He said Parliament ought to investigate the Minister who was in 1999 censored by Parliament over accusations related to the liquidation of Uganda Airlines.

Kutesa, then a State Minister for Investment used his position to award his company, Entebbe Handling Services (ENHAS), the ground handling rights at Entebbe International Airport.

He has since been named in different corruption scandals notably, the mismanagement of $27 million meant for the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala. He was later acquitted by the anti-corruption court.

He was also a subject a Parliamentary Investigation in 2011 for allegedly taking bribes from two oil firms, Heritage Oil and Gas and Tullow Oil, in exchange for favourable oil deals.

Last week’s conviction of a Chinese national Chi Ping Patrick Ho by a US district judge Loretta A. Preska in Southern New York.

Ho was accused of bribery and money laundering after he offered bribes on behalf of CEFC China top government officials in Uganda and Chad in exchange for business favours.

Kutesa himself is said to have received $500,000 (Shs 1.9 billion) which was wire to an account in Stanbic Bank in Kampala, and President Yoweri Museveni was allegedly given the same amount wrapped in a gift box.

Attorney General William Byaruhanga told Parliament that Museveni had instructed him to investigate Kutesa but MPs insisted that Parliament should also carry out its own investigation.

“Given the gravity of the matter, there is no way he can continue holding the portfolio of a Foreign Affairs minister when a competent court has adjudged him as having solicited and received a bribe,” Ssekikubo said.

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga advised Ssekikubo to prepare a substantive motion which will be debated by Parliament before any decisions can be taken.