Three months after he was acquitted by Nyarugenge Primary Court, former CEO of the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), James Sano was back in court Wednesday at the Nyamirambo-based Nyarugenge Intermediate Court.
This follows an appeal lodged by prosecution against the acquittal of the former water utility boss.
The lower court had cited insufficient evidence presented by prosecution to pin Sano on the crime of misuse of public property.
In court on Wednesday was the chairman of the WASAC board, Dr Omar Munyaneza, who was summoned to explain the discrepancies found in the institution’s procurement department.
Previously, Sano had said that all decisions were taken with approval of the board yet none of the members appeared in court over the case.
Among the charges, Sano is accused of issuing a recruitment consultancy tender through single source even after the board of directors had called for this procedure to be halted due to lack of funds.
Munyaneza said that the board was surprised to establish that management had gone on to hire a consultancy firm to conduct the recruitment and after learning about this, he summoned Sano to explain.
During a subsequent meeting, Munyaneza said that management – which was led by Sano – rationalised their decision to hire the consultancy even against the board’s advice, saying that they realised there were 3,000 applicants for the jobs advertised which was overwhelming for them, he said.
However, Munyaneza said, this did not satisfy the board because they still needed to be informed of a decision to hire a company for the consultancy.
Asked by the judge why the board had not halted the irregular process when they learnt about it, Munyaneza said that WASAC had already paid Rwf 28m (almost half of the tender worth 61m).
Munyaneza said that the board recommended that management writes to the teams that were in charge of the process to let them know that they had flouted procurement procedures.
Court heard several other witnesses – mostly managers at the utility – including the service support manager, George Barigye, the current deputy CEO, Gisèle Umuhumuza, who was then a board member, and Lambert Dushimimana, another board member.
By evening, Sano, who was present in court, had not presented his defence and the presiding judge adjourned the hearing to April 20.
Prosecution has also accused Sano of unnecessary spending on rent for the utility’s headquarters in Remera along Airport Road, saying the decision was unjustified since the water utility had moved from a facility it owned into rental.
The new premises were rented at Rwf26 million per month. When they occupied the new offices late last year, WASAC paid Rwf945.5 million for a three-year rental, according to prosecution.
Recently, the company relocated their old premises in the city center, a decision said to have been taken by the board of directors.