Police yesterday afternoon arrested Rusizi mayor Oscar Nzeyimana in what appears to be a result of ongoing investigations into alleged mismanagement of funds meant for community health insurance scheme, commonly known as Mutuelle de Sante.
Mayor Nzeyimana becomes the seventh top district official to be arrested over the funds.
Police spokesperson Celestin Twahirwa confirmed the arrest but said details would be announced later.
However, he said the mayor had been detained on allegations of “forging documents related to his work.”
The possibility of his involvement in the Mutuelle de Sante scam cannot be ruled out among factors that led to the arrest, Twahirwa added.
Earlier yesterday, The New Times attempted to contact the mayor but he was constantly texting back a message; “I’m in a meeting.”
It later emerged that he had been detained.
Late last month, six officials were questioned and detained by Police in relation to the ‘missing’ Mutuelle funds.
Also arrested are the district vice mayor for social affairs, Basile Bayihiki and Emmanuel Ndamuzeye, the district director of health.
Others included the district director of Mutuelle de Sante, a community mobilisation officer attached to the scheme and Mutuelle officials attached to a local hospital and a health centre.
Police in the south-western district of Rusizi continue to investigate the suspected mismanagement and money swindling that has allegedly left a serious heavy debt burden on the district’s community health insurance scheme, commonly known as Mutuelle de Sante, and which has affected the quality of services within local health institutions.
Sources told The New Times that the irregularities were uncovered during an audit into Mutuelle’s operations ahead of its imminent transfer to the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB).
A law that will put Mutuelle under the management of RSSB is currently being debated in Parliament and could be passed this month.
The move is expected to improve the management of the Mutuelle subscriptions, ensure that hospitals and pharmacies are paid on time and improve service delivery to patients covered by Mutuelle de Santé.
But as officials prepare for the transfer, it has emerged that hospitals and health centres in Rusizi District are owed about Rwf750 million in debts for treating patients subscribed to the Mutuelle de Sante.
The debts, which officials described as “worryingly high,” raised suspicion over possible mismanagement or embezzlement of the scheme’s funds in the district, prompting the ongoing investigations.
The Western Region Police Spokesperson, Emmanuel Hitayezu, told this newspaper that the dossier of the six officials who had been detained has already been handed over to prosecution for further action.
At this stage, he said, prosecutors are conducting their own investigations before deciding on the possibility of producing the officials before a court of law.
Credible reasons to worry
This newspaper understands that investigations are focusing on possible mismanagement or embezzlement of funds.
Sources said there are reasons to suspect that the officials might have connived or worked individually to swindle the Mutuelle funds–something they say has affected health services and the operations of health facilities in the district.
The Western Province executive secretary, Paul Jabo, told The New Times that while other districts such as Ngororero have reported significant success of Mutuelle, it remained questionable how the scheme in Rusizi was indebted to hospitals and health centres.
“We are not sure that even all subscriptions that were collected [from communities] were handed over to the right authorities,” Jabo said.
“There is a lot to worry about and that is why Police are conducting further investigations.”
The same irregularities have been observed in Nyamasheke and Karongi and investigations are ongoing in the two districts as well, the official said.
However, Jabo declined to delve into details about the suspected fund mismanagement, saying it might compromise the ongoing investigations.