By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive for ICPro
UNITED NATIONS, August 5 -- The UN is often a patronage mill, which undermines not only its credibility but also its attempted political work.
The most recent example is what multiple sources exclusively tell Inner City Press is the attempt by outgoing UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa to place his chief of staff, Arthur Kafeero, in a high UN Department of Political Affairs Africa post vacated by another's retirement.
Sources initially told Inner City Press that Kutesa was lobbying Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's chief of staff Susana Malcorra to get Kafero the job. Now, other sources say that Malcorra has put pressure on DPA chief Jeffrey Feltman to, in fact, employ Kafeero.
Kafeero is a perfectly nice guy, as is Kutesa, but this is not the way things are supposed to work in the UN. Nor is having a relative working in the PGA's office - specifically, Sam Kutesa's son Isaac -- but that's another story for another time. Inner City Press has been closely covering Burundi, including as Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was named as mediator for the term limits dispute there. This has, in an understatement, not been going well.
Kutesa's daughter, UN sources complain, is married to Museveni's son, making him a chief and adding force to his pressure on Malcorra and thus on Feltman to employ Kafeero.
So why at this time in particular would the UN be considering placing the nominee of Sam Kutesa, still operating as the foreign minister of Uganda, in this high UN DPA post on Africa? Watch this site.
Inner City Press posed questions to Kutesa back in June 2014 when he got the post, video here.
More than one source noted to Inner City Press that Malcorra is said to be angling to succeed Ban, if the post slips from the grasp of the Eastern European group. Would this move help or harm those chances?
Malcorra is also in the midst of the still unresolved scandal of the cover up of alleged child rapes in the Central African Republic by the French Sangaris peacekeepers, on which Department of Peacekeeping Operations chief Herve Ladsous, even less qualified than Kafero, is said in UN Dispute Tribunal rulings to have pressured to get the whistleblower fired.
It is in this climate of retaliation at the UN that Inner City Press publishes this story -- unlike the insider UN Correspondents Association, part of the problem at the UN and to which Ban's spokesperson's office limited information about Ban's Washington questionless photo-op this week, the new Free UN Coalition for Access aims for transparency.
Inner City Press and FUNCA previously asked for disclosure of which of PGA Kutesa's staffers were being paid by the UN, and which seconded by member states. The list has yet to be provided, while some say a relative is paid by Uganda - so disclosure might have helped.
The incoming PGA, Inner City Press is exclusively told, is mulling as spokesperson either a national of his own Denmark, or from Iceland. The criterion should be transparency. He is also said to be mulling a (deputy) chief of staff from Africa. We'll have more on this.