UNAA leaders on the spot over sh500m Museveni cash

Jul 02, 2023

Referring New Vision to State House, Wamala said the only money the association receives on an annual basis, is $100,000 (about sh365.9) which is dispatched through Uganda’s embassy in Washington DC, US.

UNAA president Henrietta Nairuba Wamala denied knowledge of the alleged funds.

Henry Sekanjako
Journalist @New Vision


The administration of the Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) is on the spot over the alleged mismanagement of funds, including $150,000 (about shillings 549 million) allegedly donated to the organisation by President Yoweri Museveni last year.

The whistleblower alleged that President Museveni through a senior cabinet minister and a senior presidential advisor, whose names the whistleblower didn’t mention, dispatched $150,000, which was received during the San Francisco Convention in September 2022.

“The cash handout was unfortunately swindled and has apparently become a campaign matter ahead of the UNAA elections,” a document issued by a whistleblower reads in part. 

The whistleblower alleges that some UNAA leaders used the money for partying and merrymaking “heavily influenced by the greedy senior cabinet minister and dubious senior presidential advisor, hence becoming part of the misappropriated taxpayers’ money”.

Muvawala Bukenya

Muvawala Bukenya


However, when contacted by New Vision, UNAA president Henrietta Nairuba Wamala denied knowledge of the alleged funds.

Referring New Vision to State House, Wamala said the only money the association receives on an annual basis, is $100,000 (about sh365.9) which is dispatched through Uganda’s embassy in Washington DC, US.

“Whoever says $150,000 was brought to UNAA should bring evidence that it was dispatched to UNAA. Go and ask State House; we never received that money. The President has never sent money to UNAA to mobilise people here, he has never done that,” Wamala told New Vision.

Wamala noted that for the years she has served as president UNAA, all donations are listed in the organisation’s financials, adding that UNAA has not had $150,000 donations in a single year.

Henrietta Ssenabulya Wamala (UNNA President)

Henrietta Ssenabulya Wamala (UNNA President)

“How could one have used and misappropriated $150,000 and this organisation stays afloat? Does that make sense to you, as a journalist, and hopefully, you can do the maths,” she said. 

UNAA’S legal counsel, Deo Kalikumutima also dismissed the reports and demanded that the whistleblower tables evidence to that effect.

He said: “Unless someone comes up with evidence that Government gave UNAA that money unless evidence is furnished, to the best of my knowledge, that $150,000 has not been disbursed, you can go and ask the ambassador.”

However, according to some members, to date, there is allegedly no proof corresponding to deposits of funds in any of UNAA’s bank accounts of financial systems.

“Financial mismanagement has infiltrated UNAA to the extent that some members have abandoned the organisation. There is a lot of mismanagement,” Charles Muvawala, a member of UNAA based in Boston, said.

Patrick Ogwang

Patrick Ogwang

UNAA annually receives $100,000 (sh353m) from the Government out of which $50,000 (sh183m) is allocated as community development funds for disbursement to members, and $50,000 as contribution to organising activities.

UNAA is the largest formal association of Ugandans in the diaspora. The objectives of the organisation, which contributes largely to Uganda’s economy through remittances, are to promote the social, culture and economic development of the Ugandan community in North America and beyond.

The organisation has more than 120,000 community individuals and an annual budget of $200,000 to $400,000.

For transparency and proper accountability, some community members demanded a forensic audit into UNAA accounts over allegations of financial mishandling.

According to the community members the year 2020, which they described as the first full year of operation, is the only time the administration filed taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

Timothy Njonjo

Timothy Njonjo

“Last year during the UNAA annual convention, the organisation failed to give a financial report to the members as required by the organisation’s constitution,” Steven Osito, a Ugandan based in California, said.

COVID-19 funds

The members also questioned the management of funds during the 2020 convention which was slated to take place in San Francisco, California but was cancelled due to COVID-19 and opted for a virtual one via Zoom.

According to the whistleblower, in the post-event report allegedly prepared by the UNAA executive secretary, Lambert Etibot, the copies of financial returns submitted are not signed by any official, which members said raises suspicion. 

It is alleged that UNAA used close to $275,237 (shillings one billion) on the Zoom convention.

Lambert Etibot (UNNA Secretary General)

Lambert Etibot (UNNA Secretary General)

“We have demanded accountability and transparency for over a year now but they failed to give us answers,” Josephine Namakula a UNAA member based in Texas, US said.

In response, however, Wamala denied the accusations saying her administration has never misappropriated any funds.

She said: “Our financials are posted on the UNAA website since I took office and as a non-profit organisation, we are subject to following both state and federal financial rules as mandated for non-profit organisations here in the US and are open to any federal audit as well.

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