HIV/Aids coordinator named in corruption case

The associations and cooperatives of people living with HIV/Aids in Burera district have lodged a complaint over alleged extortion by a local leader.
Dr Binagwaho (L) addresses the media on the allegations yesterday. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.
Dr Binagwaho (L) addresses the media on the allegations yesterday. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.

The associations and cooperatives of people living with HIV/Aids in Burera district have lodged a complaint over alleged extortion by a local leader.

The associations claim that Jean de Dieu Mwizerwa, who is in-charge of coordinating activities of people living with HIV/Aids at the district level extorted about Rwf1.9m from eight associations and cooperatives that received money from Global Fund for the welfare of their members.

Last year, 12 associations in Burera received close to Rwf20 million meant to be invested in agriculture to improve the welfare of people living with HIV/Aids.

But Mwizerwa instructed each of the benefiting associations to give him 10 per cent of the money.

“By the time we learnt about it, eight associations had already given him the money. We tried to convince him to pay back the money but he refused claiming that there was no proof that he received the money,” said Jean De Dieu Twagiramungu, the coordination of associations of people living with HIV/Aids in Burera district.

Refund made

Twagiramungu, who was speaking at a news briefing organised by the Ministry of Health said the accused later refunded money to four associations out of the eight.

The extortion claims came to the limelight after an anonymous person sent an e-mail to the Minister of Health, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, informing her about the malpractice and requesting that the issue be looked into.

“We can’t verify whether this information is true or not, but these people have a right to question any leader since they are the ones that elected them to office,” Dr Binagwaho said while responding to the claims, yesterday.

“As the ministry, we are just facilitating them to exercise their rights. Upon receiving the complaint, we forwarded it to the relevant authorities for action,” she said.

However, when The New Times contacted Mwizerwa, he admitted receiving the money from the associations, but denied that it was extortion.

“There was an emergency call for associations to draft project proposals, I assisted them with getting an expert that would do that for them on condition that every association would pay 10 per cent of the money they will receive, but this was a verbal agreement,” Mwizerwa said.

This newspaper has since learnt that Burera district has suspended Mwizerwa as investigations into the matter are still going on.

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