Ombudsman’s report exposes misconduct in Gov’t circles

• Singles out Traffic Police, judiciary, land and customs officials Though government has stepped up measures to curtail corruption within different organs, the vice seems to be entrenched in grass-root structures and a cross section of national institutions, a 2008 report from the Ombudsman reveals.

• Singles out Traffic Police, judiciary, land and customs officials

Though government has stepped up measures to curtail corruption within different organs, the vice seems to be entrenched in grass-root structures and a cross section of national institutions, a 2008 report from the Ombudsman reveals.

As stipulated in the law establishing the office of the Ombudsman, the annual report will be tabled in parliament this week.

In the report seen by The New Times, the government tsar said his office conducted two studies in 2008 examining the gravity of this crime and what fuels it.

One study that looked at the national stage ranked the most four corrupt institutions as; traffic police, judicial officials, land officials and customs officials.

It said the top four corrupt organs at the grass-root levels were; cell leaders, Gacaca judges, local defence and local mediators.  

At the decentralised structures, the report says much of the corruption is due to “moral decay” and to some extent low salaries.

The 75-page report said the office of Ombudsman carried out routine accountability checks in eight ministries, six different government institutions, all the provinces and 16 districts. 

It also carried out investigations on 462 cases related to corruption during the same reporting year.

Overall, it commends government’s pro-active role in stamping out corruption but equally brings out some incidences that the report says were undermining government’s goal of promoting transparency and accountability.

Some of the ministries where routine checks were carried out included; Infrastructure, Foreign Affairs, Internal Security, Public Service, Local Government, Justice, Commerce and Trade.

It noted some irregularities and incidences of mismanagement in the Ministry of Infrastructure that included hiring of consultants after by-passing normal recruitment procedures.

Within the same ministry, the report singles out a case where the government was fined Rwf 104.5 million for late payment of an advance owed to the contractor of Kicukiro-Nyamata-Mayange road.

The Infrastructure docket was also criticised alongside that of Foreign Affairs for discrepancies in salary structures between staff on similar ranking.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should harmonise its salary structure,” the report recommended. “It should ensure that ministry staff on the same ranking should be paid a similar salary and awarded similar benefits to ensure harmony.”

The report prepared in Kinyarwanda said that since the second half of 2005, the ministry has not been banking its staff’s remittances to SSFR and called upon it to correct this mistake “as soon as possible.”

“There are also weaknesses in the running of our embassies including failure to respect periodic audits,” the report says. 

It noted poor coordination between the Ministry of Internal Security and organs affiliated to this ministry. The report singled out poor tendering procedures in all the cited ministries, insisting that failure to follow the normal tender awarding channels were undermining government effort of ensuring accountability.

For example on the Ministry of Internal Security, the report says; “huge tenders were awarded using only pro-formas, reports on awarded tenders were not signed off and there’s lack of evidence to show how evaluation of these tenders was conducted.”

Govt institutions
Just like the ministries, the report says a number of government institutions showed internal weaknesses in tender awarding and cases of mismanagement which in a way, undermined their efforts in achieving the goals of their mandates.

The report touches on six institutions that include; the former Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN),  Ocir Café, OcirThe, Travaux d’Interets Generale (TIG), Institute de Sciences Agronomique du Rwanda (ISAR) and Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA).
It said the staff of former ORTPN (now RDB-Tourism) lacked experience and basic training in the field of tourism and little progress had been made to avail them training opportunities.

“Tendering documents in ORTPN are scattered or not in order, making it difficult to evaluate tenders that have been awarded,” the report says.

The report was also critical of the tourism body for failure to compensate local population alongside its own staff injured or at times killed by animals in national parks.

ISAR is singled out as one of the government institutions where mismanagement of government resources needs immediate attention while poor coordination of work within TIG was affecting its intended output.

Wealth declaration
In 2008, the report says it issued out 4,929 forms for wealth declaration and received a 91 percent response. Only 451 government officials failed to return their forms.

All the top five most senior government officials declared their wealth on time. One member of the Senate failed to declare his/her wealth and five members of the lower house.

Though the President declared his wealth on time, four officials in his office did not, the report says. It also singles out two officials in the Prime Minister’s Office as well as eight judges who failed to declare their wealth.

The highest number of undeclared wealth was from the Ministry of Defence (64), Rwanda Revenue Authority (45) and Electrogaz (28). These institutions also had the biggest number of officials supposed to declare their assets.

The report that will be tabled in Parliament this week says it investigated 227 cases involving unclear accumulation of wealth during 2008.

Ends

 

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