A report by the Ombudsman, Aloysia Cyanzayire, indicating gross embezzlement of government funds was, yesterday, presented to members of both chambers of parliament, with many demanding that the law be enforced to pursue all offenders.
Cyanzaire, who was in the Lower Chamber of Parliament to present her office’s 2015/2016 report, said the analysis done after their research in Rubavu, Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Gicumbi, Ngorerero, Muhanga, Nyarugenge, Karongi and Rusizi districts indicates that Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme was one of the most affected.
“In Rubavu District, Nyakiriba Sector, Rwf19.9 million was given to individuals who did not merit it while Rfw14.6 million was given to groups that don’t exist. In Rubavu Sector, Rwf13.1 million was also lent to non-existent groups, in Rusizi District, Rfw8.8 million was lent to ten people who are not categorised under VUP programmes while in Ngorerero district, Rfw7.3 million was taken by Fidele Nshiragahinda, who was then the Executive Secretary of Muramba Sector,” the report reads in part.
MP Henriette Mukamurangwa said that VUP needed to be looked into since the issue of what she called ‘theft’ in the programme has been ongoing for a while. She requested for a timeline when the issue can be revisited to make sure that the embezzlement was rooted out.
“Every time we undertake field visits to the countryside, the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme embezzlement issue comes up. This programme should be an answer to Rwandans’ problems but what we see in these SACCOs (savings and credit cooperatives) is broad daylight theft. All these issues that have been mentioned of ‘ghost beneficiaries’ should be investigated. I need to hear something concrete about what is being done to stop this theft,” she said.
MP Adolphe Bazatoha said that it was worrying that poor ways of doing things are not reducing and were unfortunately affecting national development programmes.
“What do we really need to do to put a stop to all this? People have started wondering what we do. People actually say that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) just listens to apologies year after year and there is no action after that. I have seen somewhere in the report where the Ombudsman says that we should encourage government institutions to register their assets. How long do they have to be encouraged and why should people be encouraged to execute their duties. Is it because there are no consequences? Is it because there are no laws or is it because those laws don’t stipulate penalties?” he wondered.
Issues of injustice
Cyanzaire told MPs that, as part of her office’s mandate, they were tasked with receiving complaints from individuals and corporations regarding government employees, public institutions, and private sector and sensitise the employees and those institutions to find solutions for problems that arise.
To be able to do that, the office of the Ombudsman receives complaints of people who feel they are facing injustice through letters, some petitions are made through the Ombudsman’s toll free number, working field trips, through the use of internet and others.
“We received 1105 complaints, 657 were solved, 156 were referred to the relevant authorities, 194 are being investigated, while 96 are pending. Generally, the complaints we received are mostly land related, accounting for 46.7 per cent while 19.5 per cent are related to unsatisfactory cases,” she said.
To fight injustice, the Ombudsman was given a mandate to request for retrials where her office deems it necessary.
“In 2015/16, we received 2635 files and, managed to analyse 701 files, and of these, 73 files (making 10.4%) were forwarded for retrial and 628 cases were found to have been judged the right way. 1934 were pending by the time this report was being done. We were also tasked with finalising cases that have been pending for a long time. In 2015/16, we had 71 cases among them, 58 files were analysed and, of those, 56 official letters were written requesting the concerned authorities to complete the cases which was done,” she said.