Former WDA Director-General Gasana in custody over misuse of public funds

Jerome Gasana, the former Director General of the Workforce Development Agency (WDA) is among those being held by RIB. / File

Eight top Government leaders are in the custody of Rwanda Investigations Bureau over misuse of public funds and embezzlement. 

Jérôme Gasana, the former Director-General of the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), is among those that were arrested alongside officials from different institutions.

Three more officials from WDA were arrested alongside Gasana, RIB said. These include the former Project Coordinator Béatrice Mutoni, the officer in charge of Human Resources Management George Gatete, and the former Director in Charge of Administration and Finance Antoine Ndayisabye.

The Administration and Finance Units mainly are tasked with coordination of the development, execution, and monitoring of budgets.

The arrest of WDA officials comes after a few days when the Parliament had summoned the organization's leaders over the Rwf2.4 billion hospitality school project which stalled.

According to the investigation bureau, the head of the Investment Department, Eric Gasana, and the Human Resource Officer at Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), Emmanuel Mugabo, were also arrested.

RSSB has been the subject of public criticism for its poor investment decisions, failure to recover some social security contributions, and irregularities in declaring and collection of medical insurance.

The Fund has been faulted for undertaking unprofitable equity investments, which have also shrunk in value.

According to the 2017 Auditor-General’s report, for instance, six entities in which RSSB invested a staggering Rwf21 billion had not generated any dividends from the time of initial acquisition or establishment.

However, when RSSB leadership met members of the parliament in January, they promised to fix the challenges by deploying technology and automating many operations as well as identifying the right people to work for the institution.

Meanwhile, two more officials from the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC) - the former Director of Finance Joseph Ruhinyura as well as the head of Logistics and Administration Alfred Nyiringango, were also arrested.

Both of them were fired back in 2017, at the same time the utility body's body chief executive, James Sano was arrested over the same accusations.

RIB said on Saturday that the investigations were continuing in other public institutions where public funds were misused or embezzled as mentioned in the Auditor General's report.

The aim, it said, was to "establish criminal responsibilities for suspects to face justice and embezzled public funds be recovered in accordance with the law." 

For many years, the Auditor General's (AG) report has pointed out the misuse of public funds as one of the dominant issues faced by public institutions.

According to the latest audits released by the Auditor General, earlier this year, public institutions were characterized by irregular expenditure in form of unsupported expenditure, partially supported expenditure, wasteful expenditure, unauthorized expenditure and funds diverted or fraudulently utilized.

All that amounted to Rwf5,681,814,498.

Such audits have in the past identified cross-cutting issues such as cases of delayed and abandoned contracts, stalled projects, continuing cases of idle assets, failure to recover advance payment and performance securities, as well as non-compliance with taxation laws.

WASAC, RSSB and the Energy, Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), are some of the institutions that have been faulted in these annual reports several times.

Despite this, little efforts have been directed towards bringing such officials to account for such cases.

This ostensibly shows renewed efforts to bring public officials to face accountability.

President Paul Kagame has personally been a strong advocate of accountability and the efficient use of public resources.

Earlier this year in the Southern Province, he alluded to the need for accountability for leaders to deliver on their responsibilities.

The Head of State at the time expressed concern on accountability and proper use of state resources meant for citizen welfare.

“When you know you have the necessary, in this case, a budget of Rwf 120 billion, that money cannot just disappear, and year after year nothing has changed or improved. How can you explain this?" He wondered! 

"We need to be showing the impact and change that amount has created. We cannot be like the ones who use a sieve to carry water. We have the ability to think, to do the work,” Kagame said at the time.

plain this? We need to be showing the impact and change that the amount has created. We cannot be like the ones who use a sieve to carry water. We have the ability to think, to do the work,” he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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