who is sam kutesa
Who is Sam Kutesa

Who is Sam Kahamba Kutesa? Flash Uganda Media looks at his biography, early life, education and family of current Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Sam Kahamba Kutesa is a Ugandan politician, lawyer and a successful businessman. He is the Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Cabinet of Uganda, a position he has held since 13 January 2005 and maintained through three cabinet reshuffles.

Kutesa is 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 to 2015.

He is the member of the ruling National Resistance Party (NRM) and known for politics.

Early Life and Education

Sam Kahamba Kutesa was born on 1 February 1949. 

He attended Kazo Primary School where he obtained his Primary Leaving Examinations in 1962 after he joined Mbarara High School for his O-Level education where he achieved his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UCE) in 1967. 

And then Kings College Buddo for his A-Level class where he obtained his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) in 1969.

From King’s College Buddo, Kutesa was admitted to Makerere University graduating with a Bachelor of Laws Degree, back then when the institution was part of the University of East Africa

He also holds a Diploma in Legal Practice, obtained from the Law Development Centre (LDC) in Kampala.

Kutesa meets U.S. Ambassador to Uganda
Mr Kutesa meets U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac.

Work and Experience

From 1973 to 2001 Sam Kahamba Kutesa was in private legal practice/business. In 1974 until 1975, Kutesa served as the State Attorney Ministry of Justice.

In 1975 until 1977 Kutesa served as a Company Secretary Lonrho East Africa Ltd, Nairobi. And then as a Legal Secretary Uganda Advisory Board of Trade. 

Kutesa was Corporate Secretary National Textiles Board from 1977-1979. He served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Mbarara North Constituency from 1980 to 1985 and as Attorney General and Minister of Justice from 1985 to 1986.

Kutesa served as an Attorney of Kutesa and Co Advocates from 1980-1994.

Between 1994 and 1995, he served as a delegate to the Constituent Assembly that drafted the 1995 Ugandan Constitution.

Kutesa served as the Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Development from 1996-1999. 

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 Kaguta Museveni appointed Sam Kutesa as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2005, following the death of James Wapakhabulo.

Kutesa also served in the 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. Kutesa was then officially elected by the UNGA on 11 June 2014 preceded by John William Ashe and served until 2015.

Because Kutesa defended the discriminatory Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014, human rights organizations felt his UN Presidential position was not supportive of the values embodied in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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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 got over 15,000 signatures on change.org, was written by a Ugandan, Milton Obote Allimadi, editor of Black Star News. He highlighted Kutesa’s support of the Ugandan anti-gay bill and allegations of corruption. Despite protests and the petition, Kutesa became the president.

At the time of his election, he was serving as Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, a post he held since 2005.

During his tenure as Foreign Minister, Uganda has hosted high-level meetings of key intergovernmental bodies such as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in 2007, the Council of Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2008, and the African Union (AU) Heads of State Summits in 2010.

Uganda also served its two-year term on the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member, in 2009 and 2010.

At the regional and sub-regional levels, Mr Kutesa has hosted top-level gatherings of organizations such as the East African Community (EAC), The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

From 2011 to 2014, he chaired the ICGLR’s Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee which deals with challenges such as consolidating peace and stability in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), promoting transparency in the exploitation and sale of natural resources, and countering sexual and gender-based violence.

Hon Sam Kahamba Kutesa is the 11th African to head the UNGA. He takes over from John William Ashe from Antigua and Barbuda. The only other East African to have held the position is Ahmed Salim Ahmed who was elected in 1979. 

Salim, a former Prime Minister of the United Republic of Organization of Africa Unity from 1989 to 2001.

As Foreign Minister, Mr Kutesa has played a key role in the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in regional peace processes in the Sudan and South Sudan, and stabilization efforts in Somalia.

sam Kutesa fronting his daughter
Kutesa fronting his daughter, Shatsi Musherure Kutesa as his replacement.

Further, during his tenure, the East African Community, to which Uganda belongs, has achieved significant milestones in strengthening regional cooperation and economic integration, establishing a Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in 2010, and signing, in 2013, a protocol laying the groundwork for a monetary union in the region by 2023, to increase commerce and boost regional trade.

An elected Member of Parliament for more than three decades, Mr Kutesa was a member of Uganda’s Constituent Assembly and Chairman of that body’s Political Systems Committee, during which time he contributed to drafting a new Constitution for the country, adopted in 1995.

From 2001 through 2005, he served as Minister of State for Finance, Planning and Economic Department, in charge of investment, and from 1996 to 2000, as a Minister of State for Planning and Economic Development. He was his country’s Attorney General from 1985 to 1986.

In the private sector, Mr Kutesa worked as Legal Secretary for the worldwide conglomerate Lonrho East Africa and served in a consultative capacity on the Uganda Advisory Board of Trade, and the National Textiles Board. He also practised law in his country, specializing in corporate law and litigation.

SSam Kahamba Kutesa quits Active politics

Foreign Affairs Minister and Mawogola North legislator, Sam Kutesa in 2019 announced that he will not be seeking another Parliamentary term in the upcoming 2021 general elections.

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Instead, he is fronting his daughter, Shatsi Musherure Kutesa as his replacement for the position.

Kutesa revealed this while addressing residents of Ssembabule town who had gathered to conduct a voluntary clean-up exercise of the township dubbed ‘Keep Ssembabule clean and green’.

Kutesa told the electorate that her daughter fits in this generation of the youths and thus will be able to do many things for the area.

On her part, Shatsi Kutesa explained that it is time for the young and energetic educated youths to carry on from where their parents and elders have stopped and take the country forward.

She appealed to the Mawogola electorate to entrust her as their next representative in the national house.

Personal Life and Family

Sam Kahamba Kutesa was named among world’s richest men sheltering huge amounts of cash in offshore tax havens. 

He was named in Paradise Papers – a global investigation that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world’s most powerful people, Multinational companies, wealthy individuals, heads of state, politicians and sports stars from around the world.

The Paradise Papers outline the tax and financial affairs of hundreds of people and companies connected to Appleby and the 19 tax havens, with many appearing to have invested or sheltered huge amounts of cash in offshore tax havens.

Kutesa was listed with some of the biggest names to emerge so far include the Queen, Facebook and Donald Trump’s cabinet members and advisers.

Sam Kutesa and his wife and Hon Okello Oryem
Hon Sam Kutesa (Right) and his wife (center) and Hon Okello Oryem (Left) at Entebbe International Airport

The report says, Sam Kahamba Kutesa Uganda’s foreign minister and former president of the United Nations General Assembly during its 2014-2015 sessions, created the Obuyonza Discretionary Trust in Seychelles in 2012. The trust held shares in the Seychelles Company Katonga Investments Ltd.

Hon Kutesa created the trust, watched over its administration and was one of its beneficiaries.

Kutesa’s daughter, Ishta, also is listed as a beneficial owner as well as a future recipient of money from the trust. An internal Appleby document from 2015 reported that the company’s intended activities were “consultancy, investments, trading and airport services in Uganda.”

The money for Katongo was to come from Enhas Uganda Ltd, another Kutesa entity, Appleby’s notes state. Kutesa has owned Enhas, a ground-handling service at Uganda’s Entebbe Airport, since the 1990s.

In 1998, a Ugandan parliamentary committee named Kutesa and another co-owner in a report criticizing the privatization that helped create Enhas and led to its lucrative airport contract.

The report concluded that the privatization had been “manipulated and taken advantage of by a few politically powerful people who sacrifice the people’s interest.”

As part of a periodic review in 2015, Appleby labelled Kutesa’s companies a “high risk” given his political role and media reports of alleged corruption and bribery involving Kutesa told Appleby that the purpose of the trust was to separate his government income “from his personal assets and belongings.”

In 2015, however, Appleby noted that the companies connected to the trust were dormant and that “it seems that nothing such is being done.”

However, Kutesa in defence confirmed to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ’s) media partner in Uganda, the Daily Monitor that he established the companies, but “I have never done anything with it at all. I told Appleby to close it many years ago.”

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He said he had registered a company in Uganda and is paying taxes. “I thought you could avoid, not evade, taxes but I found it was not practical, and unnecessary,” Kutesa told the Daily Monitor. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

Offshore tax havens typically offer low or zero tax rates to non-residents who keep money there.

Experts estimate that around $10 trillion (7.6 trillion Euros) is held offshore around the world. That money would potentially otherwise be taxed in the owner’s home country, meaning governments are potentially missing out on billions in revenue.

Sam Kutesa is married to Edith Kutesa and together they have four children, that’s Charlotte Nankunda Kutesa, Elizabeth Kutesa, Inga Kutesa, and Ishta Asiimwe Kutesa.

Controversy

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.

kutesa United Nations General Assembly
He was the President of the United Nations General Assembly during its 69th session

Kutesa and the UN bribery scandal

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tapped phone calls and emails of Uganda Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and his wife Edith Kutesa after they were suspected of being involved in bribery acts at the United Nations (UN) at the time he served as the President of the UN General Assembly.

Kutesa served as president of the UN General Assembly from 2014 to 2015 and is alleged to have received a $500.000 (about shs1.8billion) bribe from Chinese national, Patrick Ho of China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC) in exchange for obtaining “business advantage’ for the Chinese energy company.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, US prosecutors submitted evidence before court suspecting the Kutesa’s of getting involved in bribery acts while at the UN.

Kutesa and his wife Edith Kutesa, have also been mentioned in their dealings with Sheri Yan another Chinese national, who was once known for hosting soirees around the world where diplomats mingled with millionaires business executives and socialites.

Kutesa’s wife once worked for Yan and phone taps suggest Yan and Ho were working together to exert corrupt influence inside the UN. Yan was arrested by FBI agents in October 2015 and was accused of bribing the former 68th president of the UN General Assembly, John Ashe, the Sydney Herald reported.

Yan is the founder of Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), which, according to her pitch, is backed by “political leaders, successful business people, and members of the world’s best-known families.

Edith Kutesa and John Ashe were listed as GSF’s only two advisers. 

According to the Sydney Herald, while the GSF was engaged in some altruistic work, evidence gathered by the FBI suggests, Yan’s appointment of Ashe as a GSF adviser was to enable Yan to pay him a monthly bribe of $20.000, supplemented by larger kickbacks.

Hobbies and Special Interests

  • Reading 
  • Farming

Membership to Professional Body