Wrangles rock LDGL after sacking of top rights official

The League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region (LDGL) is embroiled in administrative wrangles following the sacking and resignation of two senior officials from the rights umbrella.

The League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region (LDGL) is embroiled in administrative wrangles following the sacking and resignation of two senior officials from the rights umbrella.

At the centre of the controversy include Dative Mukeshimana, a former LDGL Board vice-chair for Rwanda, who resigned following ‘illegal’ sacking of Francine Rutazana, the regional body’s former Executive Secretary.

It is understood that Mukeshimana, who was Rwanda’s representative to the board of directors composed of members from Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), resigned in protest of Rutazana’s sacking.

Rutazana claims that she is a victim of bad blood between her and the board chairman, Congolese born Joseph Sanane Chiko. It is alleged that Sanane single-handedly sanctioned the firing of Rutazana.

“That (sacking Rutazana) and other clandestine decisions made by the board chairman, which were, according to our statute, supposed to be made with the consent of the whole board made me resign as First Vice President of the orgnisation,” Mukeshimana told The New Times in an interview on Tuesday.

She however declined to delve into the reasons of Rutazana’s expulsion. “I don’t want even to consider the reasons she was given for her suspension and subsequent sacking, if they are genuine or not, the procedure was wrong and I couldn’t stay in this state of dictatorship,” she said   Rutazana was sacked in June after an earlier suspension by Sanane.

Sanane who is based in the eastern DRC is also accused of peddling influence and coercing other board members from DRC and Burundi into adopting any resolution he wants to be passed.  Each of the three countries is represented by two people on the organisation’s board of directors.

Mukeshimana further explained her decision to resign: “If he (Sasane) tabled anything that he wanted, I would be outnumbered because even my other Rwandan colleague is always too busy to attend board meetings.

“Sooner or later, with this kind of environment, I felt some unfounded report would be published by LDGL on Rwanda and with my position compromised, would not have anything to do about it.”

Nine Rwandan human rights associations are LDGL members. The umbrella has its headquarters in Kigali City.
Mukeshimana also accuses Sanane, who has been board chairman since 2005, of doctoring minutes of board meetings. “We never used to sign for the minutes so he would alter them to give the secretariat different decisions for execution,” she claimed.

Rutazana alleges that her dispute with Sanane stems from the appointment of one Pie Bimenyimana, who was given a job but then had his contract terminated few days later.
“He (Bimenyimana) was appointed after an interview conducted by people commissioned by the board. A day after he started working, the chairman wrote directing me to terminate his contract to which I refused because I saw no irregularity in his appointment. That is how my disagreements with him (Sanane) started,” Rutazana claims. Indeed, Bimenyimana was sacked on the same directive.

LDGL speaks out
When contacted, Pascal Nyiribakwe – who heads a three-man committee that was put in place after the sacking of Rukazana – dismissed the claims. “If she feels that she was illegally dismissed, I think there are competent authorities she could have petitioned to look into the matter,” Nyiribakwe said.  He accuses Rukazana of refusing to relinquish her post after her dismissal.

“We had to petition the labour inspectorate of Gasabo District to make her hand over the office…of course she is not happy by the sacking as everybody else could,” he said.
On Mukeshimana’s resignation, he said she did so as it is her absolute right as anyone else could.

He added that in her resignation letter, she stated that the board meeting that sacked Rukazana convened in her absence.

“The reason she refused to attend that meeting (held in Bujumbura, Burundi) is that she had just returned from a foreign trip and had at the same time been appointed director general of Duterimbere (a women cooperative bank). Thus I think she deemed it not convenient for her to go on another foreign trip,” Nyiribakwe said of Mukashema.

It is in that meeting Rutazana was sacked.  Rwanda is currently short of representatives to the board of directors of the rights group, with the second representative, Justin Ntaganda, currently engaged with other duties.

However, Nyiribakwe maintains that Rwanda cannot be cheated in the organisation’s activities. “There is an advantage that the executive secretary of the organization is in most cases Rwandan, owing to the fact that the headquarters are here; we feel Rwanda cannot be cheated,” he said.  However, neither Mukeshimana nor Rukazana agree with Nyiribakwe. Both ladies claim that Nyiribakwe was groomed by Sanane, and thus his puppet.

The Ministry of Local Government, which has NGOs in its docket, said it was not yet aware of the wrangling.
“If at all those problems are there, they have never raised them with us,” the ministry’s Secretary General Eugene Balikana, said.

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