At least 14 local leaders have been arrested across the Eastern Province on charges of misappropriation of public funds.
The officials are accused of embezzling and or misusing government funds under the Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP), a social protection initiative introduced to reduce levels of poverty in the country.
The suspects, according to authorities, comprise sector executive secretaries, veterinary officers and VUP managers, among others.
They were arrested at different times during the course of last week, according to Inspector of Police Emmanuel Kayigi, the police spokesperson for Eastern region.
The suspects are alleged to have embezzled millions of francs, which were discovered missing in different sectors across the province.
The swoop was triggered by an audit of different districts that discovered gross mismanagement of funds allocated for the project.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Kayigi said the province sanctioned an audit in all districts following consistent reports of misuse of the funds from residents.
In most of the complaints, residents accused their leaders of diverting VUP funds into their personal projects.
“Up to now we are still receiving complaints from the people and we are taking each of them seriously.
“They will appear in court in few days…charges range from embezzlement to deliberate misallocation of public funds and abuse of trust that led to gross losses,” he said.
“We arrested them after getting information from their fellow leaders and residents and doing our own investigations.”
According to a source familiar with the investigations, at least all districts in the province were affected.
An example of the alleged scam is where over Rwf900 million was spent on ghost projects, while other millions are said to have been disbursed to beneficiaries but with no proof.
Losses suffered as a result of louting procurement procedures total to over Rwf350 million, said the source.
“There are non-existing groups that were created to benefit from the programme at the expense of the real beneficiaries, they forged financial documents and services.”
Odette Uwamariya, the governor of Eastern Province, confirmed that there was gross embezzlement and misallocation of the VUP money.
She said that the officials entrusted with the implementation of the special protection programmes never lived to expectations.
“The suspects are many…they were revealed following an audit conducted across all the districts. It’s unfortunate that people could do such a great disservice to the public by embezzling such crucial funds. We shall not leave any one involved to go scot-free…it’s being handled without fear or favour just like we did with Mutuelle de Santé scam culprits last year,” she said.