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Uganda Embassy in US under investigation over corruption

Ambassador Oliver Wonekha

The Uganda Embassy in Washington, D.C. is under investigation for reported administrative misconduct and corruption.

The investigation stems from a four page-letter written by whistle-blowers at the mission to the President Museveni and Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa.

In the letter, Ambassador Oliver Wonekha, her deputy Alfred Nnam and other senior officers are accused of mistreating staff. It is also alleged that the embassy is operating without both finance and procurement committees despite huge expenditures. This is viewed as a direct contravention of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act.

Other issues highlighted prominently in the letter includes how certain officers are often paid allowances for non-existent trips, exaggerated per diem and unjustifiable refunds especially those in accounts as an inducement to cover corruption practices at the embassy.

Dr Sam Omara, spokesperson ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the ministry received the complaints and the matter is being handled administratively and “soon shall be fixed.”

Omara says some allegations are true, while others were heavily exaggerated. He however did not say which allegations were true and those that are exaggerated. Gloria Nakibuuka Namugera, the senior communication officer in the office of Auditor General confirmed ongoing audits at the embassy but declined to divulge detail regarding the investigations.

“I have however been advised that as long as an audit is ongoing, the office is not at liberty to comment about it till the report is submitted to Parliament,” says Namugera.

In the letter, the whistle blower says that the mission has operated without a Finance committee meeting for over two years and that minutes of meetings are often forged and put on files to meet requirements of the auditors. Employees of the embassy also claim that those who question how the mission is managed, are offended suppressed.

“Junior staff are often harassed and threatened with sacking whenever they cite any irregularities within the system,” reads the letter.

However when contacted for a comment, Ambassador Oliver Wonekha trashed the allegations saying it's all meant to discredit the “clear” representation of Uganda in the United States.

“I also wish to candidly state that these allegations are baseless, false and malicious. The authors of the allegations, I believe, want to tarnish the good reputation and stellar performance of the Embassy, of myself and the other officers alluded to,” says Ambassador Wonekha

The Embassy of Uganda in the US was strongly highlighted in the Auditor General's report of 2014 volume 2, as “overwhelmed with irregularities.”

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