Seven months since declaring war on the so-called ‘Big Fish’ in the fight against corruption, Prosecutor-General Jean Bosco Mutangana says that his office is investigating officials from close to 30 government parastatals for corruption, embezzlement and mismanagement of public funds.
The revelation follows the recent arrest of James Sano, the former chief executive of the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), and Emmanuel Kamanzi, the former managing director of the Energy Development Corporation Ltd (EDCL) – who are both being investigated for crimes related to loss of public funds.
In an interview with The New Times, Mutangana said that his office is acting on recommendations of the 2016/17 Auditor-General’s report, beginning with a small fraction with plans to cast the net even wider.
“We are acting on the Auditor-General’s recommendations. We have started with close to 30 institutions but we will be pursuing more later. We are focusing on both mid-level and senior managers in public offices,” he said.
Mutangana was, however, quick to add that the investigations don’t mean that all cases are necessarily going to end up in court as “we are gathering information to be relied on for further action.”
He said the use of ICT and the fact that the nature of the crime classifies it as organised, the Government was now working on expanding its network in the fight against graft.
“We are looking at expanding our network within the region and beyond, especially by enhancing our relationship with Interpol which has a better database and equipment. We know that they (suspected officials) travel so they use their passports, fingerprints, among others. So we request for mutual legal assistance when it comes to moving money,” Mutangana said.
Over the course of several years, Members of Parliament and Auditor-General Obadiah Biraro have criticised the lack of action against top officials in institutions that have year on year been cited in reports by the AG.
In a telephone interview with The New Times, Biraro applauded the Prosecutor-General’s office for finally taking action, saying big losses would have been avoided if this had been done years back.
“The Prosecutor-General is doing what he should have been done all along. That is what is normally expected of his office. It is good that he is finally applying the appropriate pressure,” he said.
What the numbers say
Statistics indicate that though the number of corruption-related crimes has been going up, the National Public Prosecution Authority’s zeal to pursue and bring the perpetrators to justice has also greatly improved.
“We received 1,036 cases and processed 1,013, which is 97.8 per cent (completion rate). The conviction rate of these cases has also improved to 84.2 per cent from 79.05 per cent,” he said.
Specifically, the Prosecutor-General’s office investigated cases of mismanagement of funds meant for welfare programmes, including Girinka, Mutuelle de Sante, and VUP programmes.
In the 2016/17 judicial year, prosecution filed 64 cases. Forty-three of them involved 64 individuals, 49 were found guilty of embezzlement and were ordered to refund more than Rwf100 million and fined more than Rwf175 million.