Govt sends parallel teams to UN General Assembly

Left to right: Minister for General Duties Justin Kasule Lumumba, Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, Foreign Affairs minister Jeje Odongo and Vice President Jessica Alupo during the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 78th Session on Monday. Photo/Courtesy of Mr Ayebare’s X handle

What you need to know:

  • Despite President Museveni designating Ms Jessica Alupo to represent him and the country at the 78th United Nations General Assembly underway in New York, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja surfaces with another delegation, pushing up the number of officials listed to represent Uganda to 71 and sparking confusion and diplomatic headache for hosts.

The United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 78th Session kicked off in New York on Monday, but for Uganda, the turn up of both Vice President Jessica Alupo and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, sparked confusion and diplomatic incident.
The Uganda Mission to the United Nations in New York, which in this case is the host and coordinator of activities of visiting Ugandan delegation, had upon notification by Foreign Affairs Minister, Gen Jeje Odongo, prepared for a 51-member entourage led by the VP.

Minister Odongo in an August 29 “instrument of appointment” named Ms Alupo as head of Uganda’s delegation to UNGA whose members included himself, five other ministers and Head of Public Service, Ms Lucy Nakyobe, who doubles as the secretary to Cabinet.
Others were technical and political officers from the Office of the Prime Minister, including Minister for General Duties Justin Kasule Lumumba, who is the government’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) lead.

This year’s UNGA, which is running from September 18 to 28, is focused on SDGs. The 193 UN member states, according to the approved agenda, will discuss financing for development; pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; universal health coverage; summit of the future, fight against tuberculosis; and, commemorating and promoting the International Day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

In the context of the themes, sources knowledgeable said the more relevant government officials for the UN meeting would be the head of delegation, the Foreign Affairs minister, the SDG lead, the Health minister and five or so technocrats plus aides to the principals.
“About 10 officials would be enough to represent Uganda at the UN General Assembly,” the source said, asking not to be named to freely discuss a sensitive matter involving bigwigs.
These would add to nine staff of Uganda’s Mission to the UN in New York, led by Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, the permanent representative, and his deputy Ambassador Godfrey Kwoba.

On the VP’s team from Kampala, according to Minister Odongo’s circular, are Health minister Ruth Aceng, her Water and Environment counterpart Sam Cheptoris, State International Affairs Minister Okello Oryem, and two spouses to some of the principals. 
The VP and Foreign Minister Odongo flew to New York from Cuba where they went for the official reopening of Uganda’s embassy in Havana and after they and other senior government of Uganda officials landed, it emerged that another 20-member delegation of Ugandan bureaucrats led by Prime Minister Nabbanja was airborne.

Our investigations reveal that the alternate team, dubbed an “addendum delegation”, was appointed by the State Minister for Foreign Affairs in-charge Regional Cooperation, Mr John Mulimba, whom Gen Odongo had designated as an understudy. 
We were unable to speak to Mr Mulimba to establish if he took the decision, which on paper increased the number of Ugandan officials attending the 78th UNGA to 71, with the concurrence of his supervisor and substantive Foreign Affairs minister who had picked the first team. 

However, Foreign Affairs Ministry Permanent Secretary, Mr Vincent Bagiire, confirmed that President Museveni, as the head of state, assigned VP Alupo to represent him and head the Ugandan delegation.
The PS argued that Ms Nabbanja’s attendance was relevant because as prime minister, her office hosts the SDG unit and coordinates all government ministries, departments and agencies tasked with implementation. 
With the ongoing session in New York focused on 17 inter-linked UN development goals, designed to serve as a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for the people and the planet, the PM was in good stead to represent the country.

“The organisers (the UN) maximise the period to have as many activities as possible. One such activity is a meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals which in the case of Uganda is coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister. It is from that viewpoint that Prime Minister and her team are participating,” Mr Bagiire added.
He, however, could not explain what value Ms Nabbanja would uniquely bring to the session to which General Duties minister Lumumba, who is the SDG lead, was already seconded under the VP’s team.

We were unable to reach the prime minister for this story. Mr Charles Odongtho, the spokesperson for the Office of the Prime Minister, did not respond to our inquiries on the duplication of representation by OPM.
Also, contrary to PS Bagiire’s defence that Ms Nabbanja’s trip to New York was relevant to SDGs meetings, she enlisted no official from the SDG secretariat in her office on her 20-member team.
The premier’s team, according to minister Mulimba’s circular stamped with a September 14 date, included Science and Technology Minister Monica Musenero, junior Finance minister Amos Lugolobi, and State Minister for Urban Development, Mr Mario Obiga Kania.

The others are senior officials from the ministries of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and that of Water and Environment as well as OPM, Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Nimisha Madhvani and her deputy, Ambassador Leonard Mugerwa.
Their show up in New York left officials at the Permanent Representation scrambling for how to accredit them and what activities to engage them in, considering they had already accredited the VP’s 51-strong entourage. 

Due to the late arrival and risk of duplication, highly-placed sources said Prime Minister Nabbanja was accredited as an advisor, a ranking lower than she would have obtained as a delegate or head of delegation is the President had assigned her to represent him or the country. 
Nonetheless, she was booked into the summit and later a side event chaired by Kenyan President William Ruto before attending another side event organised at Uganda House, across the road from UN headquarters, where celebrated economist and scholar Jeffrey Sachs delivered an address. 

Both meetings ran for roughly one-and-half-hour.
“The prime minister was not supposed to be at the UN for all intents and purposes,” said another highly-placed source briefed on the matter.
By the National Order of Precedence, VP Alupo is Uganda’s second most important citizen, while the premier ranks 8th, meaning parallel representation of the country at any event – whether inland or abroad – should not arise in a well-coordinated government.  

Sending a huge delegation, which dwarfs representations of some of the wealthier nations, opened up Uganda government to scrutiny for wasteful spending, raising questions about the value of the many bureaucrats to a summit thousands of miles away requiring niche expertise.
The decision comes in the wake of announcement by the Finance ministry that it is re-ordering priorities to downsize the country’s Shs52.7 trillion budget following a decision by the World Bank to freeze approval of new loans for Uganda over its enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

Ambassador Ayebare, Uganda’s permanent representative to the United Nations, yesterday declined to be drawn to discuss the concerns of duplicated and bloated representation of Uganda.
“We are having a successful week,” he said of the 8-day general assembly session. “The Vice President has attended the very high-level SDG and climate change summits, she is going to have high-level bilateral meetings with heads of states and the UN Secretary General (Antonio Guterres) and the President of the UN General Assembly,” he said.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja (right) during the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals summit yesterday. photo/courtesy of OPM X HANDLE

Ms Alupo is also scheduled to meet the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to discuss Uganda’s cooperation with the court and later this evening deliver an address to the General Assembly.
Uganda’s intended key gain at the summit, besides input on the global big ticket issues, is to lobby eligible UN member states for a record attendance of both the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and G77 summits that Kampala is preparing to host early next year.

Our investigations show that one of the ministers on the prime minister’s team upon arrival in New York had no formal programme, showed up at the event at Uganda House and was airborne back home by yesterday.
A handful officials drafted at the last minute on the premier’s team reportedly never obtained visas and did not travel, although we were unable to establish the number. Our reporter spotted two ministers, who had no defined formal engagements, holidaying at a hotel in downtown Manhattan and another went shopping.

The naming in 2021 of Ms Nabbanja as Prime Minister, replacing Dr Ruhakana Rugunda and before him Mr Amama Mbabazi, stirred public debate on her suitability for the office, prompting President Museveni, the appointing authority, to spring to the defence of what he called a “fisherman” Cabinet he said was pro-people and primed to deliver compared to their aloof and elitist predecessors. 
The premier’s actions have raised questions at home and abroad too, and among the notable one being her decision to fly to New York last year with a large delegation to attend a 90-minute UNGA Platform of Women Leaders meeting. 

Still, there was only one senior technical officer from the SDG Secretariat, yet the matter for discussion falls under goal 4 – on gender equality – of the 17 goals.
It later emerged that while in New York for five days the premier had gobbled $10,000 (Shs37m) chauffer expenses, overtimes fees, prompting the Uganda Mission to the UN to ask OPM accounting officer to clear the bills.  

The ongoing 78th UNGA Session has attracted 100 heads of states, six vice presidents, among other state representatives, for the summit  on the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all.”

About the United Nations General Assembly

Founded in 1945 after World War II by 51 members, the United Nations is the global organisation and currently has 193 members. Its activities and operations are guided by a Charter. The UN has six organs: The General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, the Trusteeship Council, the Economic and Social Council and the International Court of Justice. 
The organisation’s core mandate is maintaining global peace and security and the organ responsible for this is the Security Council that has five permanent members – the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France – each with a veto power.  

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) is, according to the UN website, its “main policy-making organ”, providing a unique forum for multilateral discussions on a “full spectrum of international issues”. 
The General Assembly which comprises all the 193 member states meets in regular sessions every year, from September to December, and each member state through a representative has one and equal vote.
It discusses specific issues on an agenda or sub-theme originated by the Secretariat in New York headed by the Secretary General Antonio Guterres and approved by member states. 

This year’s sitting, called the 78th Session of the UNGA, is focusing on financing for development; pandemic prevention, preparedness and response; universal health coverage; summit of the future, fight against tuberculosis; and, commemorating and promoting the International Day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The General Assembly is also responsible for approving the UN budget, electing non-permanent members of the Security Council and voting the organisation’s Secretary General on recommendation by the Security Council.  

Sitting arrangements in the General Assembly Hall change for each session. During the ongoing 78th Session, North Macedonia occupies the first seat in the Hall, including in the Main Committees (followed by all the other countries, in English alphabetical order).
It is to this regular session that Uganda has appointed two parallel teams of 71 members to represent the country in New York, raising questions about the value-for-money on such a large entourage after the government’s austerity budget reading mid-June.

In addition, the Finance ministry has announced it’s reworking to downsize the Shs52.7 trillion revenue and expenditure plan after the World Bank froze further approval of loans for Uganda over its enactment of the Anti-Homosexuality Act in May. 

Source: UN website and original reporting 

Name    Government Position    Accreditation Status at the United Nations

  • Jessica Alupo                  Vice President     Head of Delegation
  • Peter Abaine           Not applicable    (VP’s) Spouse
  • Jeje Odongo       Foreign Affairs Minister    Representative
  • Jane Ruth Aceng     Health Minister    Representative
  • Sam Cheptoris     Water/Environment Minister    Representative
  • Kasule Lumumba    General Duties Minister, OPM    Representative
  • Okello Oryem    State Minister, International Affairs     Representative
  • Joyce Okello    Not Applicable     (Okello-Oryem) Spouse
  • Lucy Nakyobe    Head, Public Service    Alternate Representative
  • Alfred Okot    PS, Water & Environment Ministry    Alternate Representative
  • Amb Adonia Ayebare    Permanent Representative to UN    Alternate Representative
  • Phillip Odida    Director, Foreign Affairs Ministry    Alternate Representative
  • Elly Kamahungye    Director, Foreign Affairs Ministry    Alternate Representative
  • Pamela Mbabbazi    Chairperson, NPA    Advisor
  • Henry Mwebesa    Director General Health Services    Advisor
  • Asumani Guloba    Director, NPA    Advisor
  • Eunice Kigenyi    Head, Legal, Foreign Affairs Ministry     Advisor
  • Godfrey Kwoba    Dep Permanent Representative, UN    Advisor
  • Albert Byamugisha    Head, SDG Secretariat, OPM    Advisor
  • Pascal Byarugaba    M&E Specialist, SDG, OPM    Advisor
  • Stephen Mugabi    Ag Director, Water/Environment     Advisor
  • Betty Mutesa    Under-secretary, President’s Office    Advisor
  • Herbert Nabaasa    Commissioner, Health Ministry    Advisor
  • Richard Kabanda    Commissioner, Health Ministry    Advisor
  • Sarah Byakika    Commissioner, Health Ministry    Advisor
  • Denis Ocare    Ag Commissioner, Water/Environment    Advisor
  • Stavia Tuyahabwe    Ass Commissioner, Health Ministry    Advisor
  • Winnie Nabiddo    Manager, M&E, NPA    Advisor
  • Vincent Operemo    Manager, NPA    Advisor
  • Steven Ssenabulya    Ag Head, International Political Cooperation, Foreign Affairs Ministry     Advisor
  • Nelson Kasigaire    Aide to Foreign Affairs Minister    Advisor
  • Brian Mwanika    Foreign Affairs Ministry Official    Advisor
  • Celia Nabeta    Uganda Mission to UN Official     Advisor
  • Silver Kayemba    Military Advisor, Uganda Mission to UN    Advisor 
  • Paul Matovu    Principal Engineer, Water and Environment Ministry    Advisor
  • Henry Bbosa    Principal Officer, Water and Environment Ministry    Advisor
  • Catherine Kemigisha    Principal Engineer, Water and Environment Ministry    Advisor
  • Haruna Isabirye    Political Advisor, Uganda Mission to UN     Advisor
  • Joshua Kalebo    Uganda Mission to UN Official    Advisor
  • Jesse Musinguzi    Uganda Mission to UN Official    Advisor
  • Tephy Mujurizi    Technical Advisor, Labs, Health Ministry    Advisor
  • Medard Ainomuhisha    Uganda Mission to UN Official    Advisor
  • Marvin Ikondere    Uganda Mission to UN Official     Advisor
  • Amina Gurhan     Uganda Mission to UN Official     Advisor
  • Abirahmi Kananathan    Technical Assistant, Health Ministry     Advisor
  • Vincent Musubire    Deputy PPS, Vice President’s Office    Advisor
  • Francis Ojamo    Aide-de-Camp, Vice President’s Office    Advisor
  • Elijah Masereka    Trip Admin, Vice President’s Office    Advisor
  • James Opoo    Security, Vice President’s Office    Advisor
  • Justine Isenyi    Household, Vice President’s Office    Advisor


Name    Government Post    accreditattion status at UN

  1. Robinah Nabbanja    Prime Minister    Advisor 
  2. Dr Monica Musenero    Science & Technology Minister    Advisor
  3. Amos Lugoloobi    State Finance Minister    Advisor
  4. Victoria Businge    State Local Govt Minister    Advisor
  5. Obiga Kania    State Urban Devt Minister    Advisor
  6. Chris Mukisa    Executive Director, Ubos    Advisor
  7. Vincent Byendaimira    Director, Physical Planning    Advisor
  8. Nimisha Madhvani    High Commissioner to UK    Advisor
  9. John Mugerwa    Deputy High Commissioner, UK    Advisor 
  10. Godwin Kakama    Commissioner, Finance Ministry    Advisor
  11. Kenneth Atim    Assistant Commissioner, OPM    Advisor
  12. Isaac Amanya    Aide-de-Camp, Prime Minister     Advisor
  13. Ismael Kasooha    Assistant Commissioner, OPM    Advisor
  14. Mustapha Achidri    Assistant Commissioner, Finance    Advisor
  15. Hassan Byamukama    Prime Minister Bodyguard    Advisor 
  16. Fadil Ssegawa    Prime Minister Aide     Advisor
  17. Agnes Birungi    Protocol Officer, OPM    Advisor 
  18. Najjum Kyofa    Aide to Minister Obiga Kania    Advisor
  19. Epiphany Berocan    Principal Economist, Finance    Advisor
  20. Glenn Mukooya    Uganda Youth Delegate to UN    Advisor

Night alowance outside Uganda for govt official 

Category    revised rate per night

Vice President     $920 (Shs3.5m)
Prime Minister    $900 (Shs3.4m)
Cabinet Minister    $850 (Shs3.2m)
Minister of State    $820 (Shs3.1m)
Permanent Secretary    $730 (Shs2.7m)
Head of Public Service    $750 (Shs2.8m)
Director    $710 (Shs2.7m)
Head of department    $680 (Shs2.6m)
Other officers in scale U1-U8    $650 (Shs2.4m)

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