KIGALI - Members of the Chamber of Deputies yesterday overwhelmingly rejected the verbal explanations given by the Minister of Justice Tharcisse Karugarama on the embezzlement cases in some government institutions. The majority of the MPs, in their first term plenary session this year, voted against Karugarama’s explanations on the alleged embezzlement of taxpayers’ money. The unsatisfied MPs requested Karugarama to provide detailed written explanations. Forty-three MPs voted against Karugarama’s explanations. Only twelve were in favour while nine abstained.
Deputy Bernadette Kanzaire broke the silence when she objected Karugarama’s presentation.
She said that the minister’s answers didn’t respond to what the Standing Committee on Budget had asked him.
She said that the question posed to the minister required him to give updates on the investigations carried out in all Auditor General (AG)’s reports.
She argued that the minister was only giving updates on the 2005 reports, which was contrary to the question. Deputy Connie Bwiza who claimed that there have not been enough efforts in punishing those accused of embezzling state funds last year backed Kanzaire.
MP Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi also chipped in, saying there was reluctance in taking measures against mismanagement of funds. He warned that some institutions might protest against the AG’s report.
But Karugarama defended himself saying that his predecessor, Edda Mukabagwiza, gave explanations to the Parliament on the earlier reports. However, the lawmakers said they have never heard Mukabagiza’s presentation on the AG’s reports.
About 50 government institutions had been implicated in the 2005 AG’s report. Some of the institutions cited include ministries, parastatals, and institutions of higher learning among others.
Some of the inconsistencies indicated in the AG’s 2005 Report include flouting of tendering procedures, embezzlement, and unaccounted for funds that totaled to Frw 3.6 billion.
After the AG presented the report to Parliament, it was forwarded to the judiciary to investigate and set punitive measures for whoever was implicated in the report.
The Justice minister had been summoned to update MPs on the exercise of investigating and pursuing these institutions and individuals implicated in the report.
Karugarama told legislators that in the 2005 report, 12 institutions including some of their former employees involved in the alleged mismanagement of taxpayer’s money had been dragged to court. Eighteen were cleared after investigations revealed that the irregularities were caused by administrative mistakes.
“We advised them (institutions) on the proper mechanisms to ensure that they do not repeat again,” Karugarama said.
After heated debates, the unsatisfied MPs requested the minister to present them a written document with updates on the investigations on the allegations raised in the AG’s reports of 2003, 2004, and 2005.