Who is Sam Kahamba Kutesa?
Uganda Today: Sam Kahamba Kutesa (born 1 February 1949) is a Ugandan politician, businessman and lawyer who is allegedly committed to single-handedly build a church in his home area of Sembabule. Prior to this new development, Kutesa was involved in several corruption cases.His former wife, the late Jennifer Kutesa was also a cousin to the president’s wife, Janet Museveni. By the marriage of his daughter Charlotte Kutesa Muhoozi to Muhoozi, he is part of the inner circle of president Museveni. Kutesa is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of Uganda, a position he held from 13 January 2005 and maintained through three cabinet reshuffles until May 2021. He was also the elected Member of Parliament (MP) for Mawogola County in Sembabule District.] He was the President of the United Nations General Assembly during its 69th session in 2014–2015.
Early life and education
Kutesa attended Mbarara High School. He has a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University, back when the institution was part of the University of East Africa. He also has a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre in Kampala.
Kutesa was in private law practice between 1973 and 2001. He served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Mbarara North Constituency from 1980 to 1985 and as Attorney General from 1985 to 1986. Between 1994 and 1995, he served as a delegate to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 Ugandan Constitution. He was elected MP for Mawogola County in 2001 and was re-elected in 2006. He was Minister of State for Investment from 2001 to 2005. President Yoweri Museveni appointed Sam Kutesa as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2005, following the death of James Wapakhabulo.
The chain smoking and vivacious former minister for Foreign Affairs, currently 74 years, is an enigma to most Ugandans. He is a shrewd businessman and is said to be in the league of the richest Ugandans. What continues to puzzle most people is how Kutesa has managed to juggle the various volatile regimes that have ruled Uganda. He is the only Ugandan who managed to acquire a fortune when most elites were running out of the country for their dear lives under the various dictatorial regimes that have ruled Uganda.
Kutesa was born in Sembabule to a very religious family. His father is said to have traversed most of today’s Great Lakes region preaching the word of God. It is said that he died and was buried in Gahini, Rwanda. He had gone to Rwanda on missionary duty. Because of that background, unlike most Bahiima families who were engrossed in pastoralism lifestyle, Kutesa managed to go to school and graduated in the early 1970s with a Bachelor of Laws.
Kutesa’s sense for making money began in his early days. However, an opportunity availed itself to him, during the short-lived regime of Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa. After the 1985 coup, Kutesa, who was a Democratic Party (DP) MP for Ankole North (currently Kiruhura District), where he defeated Yoweri Museveni in the 1980 election was appointed Attorney General and handed the responsibility of convincing then rebel leader Yoweri Museveni to become part of Lutwa’s broad based government. It is alleged that it was during this time that Kutesa made a fortune. He has never looked back.
He also worked himself up to becoming President Museveni’s confidante despite having snubbed him when he began the bush war that finally toppled the Obote government. Not only did he snub Museveni, he even accepted to serve as an MP in the Obote government, thereby legitimising the Obote regime. Some pundits say that when former East African Community Secretary General Amanya Mushega said that Museveni had surrounded himself with political creepers, he actually meant Kutesa and the likes of former Presidential Adviser Moses Byaruhanga.
Kuteesa resigned from active politics but remained a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement political party.
In 2011, Kutesa was accused in a parliamentary investigation of receiving bribes as kickbacks from Irish oil firm Tullow Oil. Despite calls from MPs for him to resign along with the others accused, a lawyer, Severino Twinobusingye, managed to successfully sue the Attorney General and halt the proceedings and to block the calls for resignation. Following further suspicion around the incident as a result of Tullow Oil’s court case with Heritage Oil over its tax on Uganda assets, an ad-hoc parliamentary committee was convened to further investigate the allegations of corruption.
On 5 December 2018 a federal jury in New York City convicted Chi Ping Patrick Ho of paying bribes to top Ugandan officials Sam Kutesa and Yoweri Museveni. In May 2016, Ho and CEFC China executives traveled to Kampala. Before departing, Ho ensured that $500,000 was wired to the account provided by Kutesa. Ho also advised his boss, the Chairman of CEFC China, to provide $500,000 in cash to President Museveni, supposedly as a campaign donation, even though Museveni had already been reelected. Ho intended these payments as bribes to influence Kutesa and Museveni to use their official power to steer business advantages to CEFC China.
United Nations General Assembly
As Africa was due to hold the presidency of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the African Union Executive Council unanimously chose him to be their candidate after the withdrawal of Cameroonian Foreign Minister Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo. His candidature was endorsed unanimously during the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, held in Algiers, Algeria in May 2013. He was officially elected by the UNGA on 11 June 2014.
Because Kutesa defended the discriminatory Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, human rights organizations felt his U.N. presidential position was not supportive of the values embodied in the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A petition asked United States Secretary of State John Kerry to revoke Kutesa’s visa and thereby keep him from assuming the role of president of the UNGA The petition – which garnered over 15,000 signatures on Change.org – was written by Ugandan Milton Allimadi, editor of Black Star News. He highlighted Kutesa’s support of the Ugandan anti-gay bill and allegations of corruption. In spite of protests and the petition, Kutesa became the president.
Kuteesa And Former ENHAS
ENHAS (Entebbe Handling Services) is a ground handling services company that operates at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. It provides services such as passenger handling, ramp handling, cargo handling, and other related services for airlines operating in and out of Entebbe International Airport. Kuteesa was the proprietor of Entebbe ground handling business that he acquired controversially in the 1990s.
Mr Kutesa bought Enhas in 1996 as Government of Uganda stopped supporting the national carrier, Uganda Airlines, and allowed it to slip into bankruptcy. In March 1999 Mr Kutesa, who was then the state minister for finance, was censured for alleged misuse of office and influence peddling over his purchase of the business, which was supervised by his ministry. In 2021, Kutesa sold off his stake in ENHAS.