A section of MPs want a Select Committee set up to investigate Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa over a bribe he reportedly received from former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho Chi-ping.
The MPs argue that the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga can’t investigate Kutesa because of conflict of interest since the same allegations have been labeled against his boss, President Yoweri Museveni.
The protest was fronted by Jinja East Constituency MP, Paul Mwiru, who requested Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga to have a Parliament Select Committee set up to investigate the allegations other than Parliament having to rely on a report by the Attorney General who could be conflicted given the fact that the President was also implicated in the case.
It should be recalled that President Museveni yesterday ordered the Attorney General to investigate facts around allegations from the United States Court that convicted Patrick Ho Chi-ping, who is said to have bribed Kutesa with a bribe of USD500,000 as well as President Museveni who was gifted with USD500,000 to secure support for China Energy Fund Committee, a Shanghai-based rising star of China’s energy industry.
Museveni said that Kutesa informed him about the ‘gift’ but only indicated that the funds were meant for charity and said that Kutesa has to explain himself on the matter.
Last week, Patrick Ho Chi-ping was found guilty by a federal jury in New York of offering millions of dollars in bribes to African officials, and now faces jail time in the United States.
Ho was convicted by the New York Southern District Court jury on seven of eight counts of bribery and money laundering over oil rights for Chinese conglomerate CEFC China Energy, in Chad and Uganda.
Supporting Mwiru’s move, Busiro East MP, Medard Sseggona Lubega reminded Parliament that when Kutesa’s name was fronted to take up a position at the United Nations, the move was protested by Parliament, yet Government ignored the warning.
He also said that Kutesa needs to explain why he denied ever receiving the money yet the President confirmed that he discussed about the matter, saying the money was meant for charity.
Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo wondered why Kutesa was still in office amidst these allegations yet Herbert Kabafunzaki, former State Minister of Labour was booted out of office after allegations of bribery were brought against him by Police.
“Can we request that we go by rules and precedent; the Minister should step aside and allow thorough investigation to take place. Government should tell us how the money moved and wired to Stanbic without detection from the Financial Intelligence Authority?” Ssekikubo said.
In his response, the Attorney General (Byaruhanga) confirmed that the President had asked him to investigate and to inquire into the truth of this matter.
“I am going to inquire into these matters and at the end of the inquiry this parliament will be made aware of the inquiries,” he said.
However, Sseggona tasked Byaruhanga to explain when he was going to present the report before Parliament to which Byaruhanga said the intention was to complete the matter as soon as possible, a response Sseggona rejected firing back; “I did ask a specific question on when and this is a serious matters for this country. I don’t have weighing scale on how his soon is.”
Byaruhanga said he would table the report in January, something that was rejected by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who ordered to have an interim report tabled before Parliament closes on 20th December.
But despite that, Mwiru and Sseggona threw doubts on Byaruhanga’s capability to handle the matter where the President is implicated.
“Wouldn’t be fair for Kutesa to be investigated by his own peers, this man is perennially absent in the house, may you find it within your powers to summon him to appear,” Sseggona said.
However, Kadaga denied reading the said ruling from the Unites States Court and asked the MPs to present a motion and have Parliament debate and reach a decision on the matter.