Land-related issues top Ombudsman's report

The Ombudsman's new report that covers August 2013 to June 2014 shows that land-related cases remain the biggest burden.
Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire (L), Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa (C) and Senate president Bernard Makuza (R) leave the Plenary Chamber after the presentation of the report yesterday.(John Mbanda)
Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire (L), Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa (C) and Senate president Bernard Makuza (R) leave the Plenary Chamber after the presentation of the report yesterday.(John Mbanda)

The Ombudsman’s new report that covers August 2013 to June 2014 shows that land-related cases remain the biggest burden.

Of the 10 categories of complaints the office received in writing, land issues accounted for 39 per cent while cases before courts took 18 per cent. Labour and governance complaints recorded 14 per cent.

“Land-related cases need systematic approach and that’s what the Office of the Ombudsman will focus on in 2014/15, of course, not ignoring other issues in our mandate,” said Chief Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire.

The report sheds light on cases of injustice received in each district, with Nyarugenge topping with 81 complaints, of which 42 were resolved.

In Nyagatare, 68 complaints were received and 48 were solved, while in Nyamagabe, half of the 50 cases were resolved.

Ngororero and Gisagara districts had the least number of complaints at eight and 11, respectively.

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MPs Berthe Mujawamariya (R) and Eda Mukabagwiza scrutinise the Ombudsman’s report in Parliament yesterday.(John Mbanda)

Corruption

However, the report indicates that 102 corruption-related complaints were received, including 61 about poor service delivery and maladministration, 19 about faulty tendering procedures, and eight about mismanagement of public property.

Others range from gender-based corruption in the workplace, to embezzlement. Only 8 per cent are still under investigation.

Cyanzayire presented the report to a joint session of deputies and senators yesterday.

The report noted loopholes for corruption and the Ombudsman’s office advised on how they could be sealed.

Lawmakers mostly raised issues on the gross glitches in the former Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) with respect to managing the National Domestic Biogas Programme (NDBP) and problems to do with the geothermal exploration programme at Mt. Karisimbi.

The Ombudsman’s investigations found that some biogas plants constructed in 2010 were dysfunctional because of errors during construction.

Contractors who neglected their responsibilities went unpunished, the report said.

By February, 3,499 biogas plants had been constructed.

Of the 15 districts in which the Ombudsman investigated, 1,341 plants were built but only 999 were functioning.

The biogas project, started in 2008, was allocated about Rwf3 billion for a five-year period.

However, the Ombudsman said only 25.16 per cent of the funds went into the actual implementation of the project.

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MPs scrutinise the Ombudsman's report in parliament yesterday. (John Mbanda)

Geothermal

On the geothermal project, It was found that three potential wells were awarded yet they were not in the procurement plan. The project’s tendering document was also not properly done.

By April, the geothermal project had already consumed more than Rwf13 billion. Unpaid receipts worth Rwf5 billion were unearthed and disputed costs amounted to over Rwf3 billion.

Disputed costs included over Rwf1.3 billion in penalties that EWSA was supposed to pay the contractor because when the latter brought in equipment to start exploration the basics such as roads were not yet set up as per the contract.

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee deputy chairperson, MP Theoneste Karenzi, reiterated that organs – including the Ombudsman, the Auditor-General, Prosecutor-General and the Ministry of Justice – should collaborate to curb corruption and misuse of public funds.

“In so doing, there will be coordination of resources and knowledge sharing towards fighting corruption,” Karenzi added.

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The Chief Ombudsman Aloysie Cyanzayire listens to the Minister in the President's office Venatie Tugireyezu (L) as deputy ombudsman Clement Musangabatware looks on. (John Mbanda)

But Juvenal Nkusi , the PAC chair, wondered why those implicated in embezzlement cases are not being prosecuted.

The Ombudsman told the legislators that irrespective of accountability irregularities, the level of transparency and accountability had improved.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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