The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Tharcisse Karugarama, has finally convinced members of parliament that the Government and his ministry in particular have taken steps to punish culprits in embezzlement cases unearthed by the Auditor General’s reports.
The Chamber of Deputies in February rejected the minister’s verbal explanations on the issue and asked him to prepare a written response.
But on Tuesday Karugarama successfully dispelled fears that the Government was not doing enough to bring to book officials implicated in the reports.
He had earlier forwarded to the Lower House a detailed document containing details of investigations on most of the cases in question.
Questions on how state funds are managed in state organs were largely brought to light by the Auditor General’s reports for 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Karugarama listed cases of embezzlement, mismanagement and misallocation of state funds since 2000 and how suspects have since been held accountable.
In his report to the House, the minister said that 25 cases have been dealt with from 2001, while 23 others are still in courts of law. He noted that ten cases had been temporarily halted, while five others are still under investigation.
However, MP Constance Mukayuhi put Karugarama to task to explain why his figures were far less than those provided in the AG’s reports.
“In the process, we found out that several cases were rather administrative errors and not criminal in nature. In the case of administrative errors, we asked concerned officials to correct them,” Karugarama replied.
Deputies Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi and Aaron Makuba asked why officials often fail to produce proper books of accounts to the AG, only to bring them out when their cases have been taken to court.
Karugarama responded that such incidents are sometimes caused by administrative errors. The lawmakers were generally satisfied with his presentation, and commended the Government’s efforts to punish culprits and to address administrative flaws.
Most of the cases cited in the AG’s reports are related to illegal tendering procedures and outright embezzlement of taxpayers’ money. The reports have often attracted heated debates in the House and resulted in arrests and interrogation of public officials.
The Prosecutor General’s Office consequently established four probe teams, each composed of two officials from CID and the Prosecutor General’s Office, to carry out thorough investigations into the cases that caused loss of billions of state funds.