Non-profit entities hit by internal wrangles

ON JULY 22 Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) received a letter from Laurent Mundilikirwa, the former president of Liprodhor, a local rights organisation that has been in operation  since 1991.
Members of Liprodhor vote out the former committee headed by  Laurent Mundilikirwa last week.  The New Times/ Jean de la Croix Tabaro
Members of Liprodhor vote out the former committee headed by Laurent Mundilikirwa last week. The New Times/ Jean de la Croix Tabaro

ON JULY 22 Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) received a letter from Laurent Mundilikirwa, the former president of Liprodhor, a local rights organisation that has been in operation  since 1991.

The aim of the letter was to protest a decision taken two days earlier by the organisation’s general assembly which had decided to topple him over what they alleged were ‘serious administrative blunders.’

Among the blunders they accused him included taking a unilateral decision to withdraw the organisation from a national umbrella known by its French acronym as Cladho.

“We are preparing an official response to inform Mundilikirwa that we recognise the legality of new committee,” said Jean Marie Vianney Bwenge, the legal advisor in the department that oversees political parties, religious organisations and NGOs at RGB.

He said most cases that are brought before RGB relate to the infighting within management of NGOs which are mainly linked to individual interests rather than members’ interests, despite the organisations being not-for-profit.

In a previous article in this paper, The New Times reported that since last year, Liprodhor has gone through a series of administrative crises, with Mundilikirwa supporting candidates from two other associations that were allegedly illegally elected to lead the umbrella; Cladho.

In a letter The New Times has seen, RGB had rejected the committee and put in place an independent one headed by Marie Immaculé Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency Rwanda.

The appointment of the Ingabire-led committee provoked Mundilikirwa to pull Liprodhor out of the umbrella claiming that the members that were appointed to oversee the umbrella did not subscribe to it.

Mundilikirwa justified his decision saying they could not be led by people imposed on them, and who are not members of the umbrella.

Yet other members of Liprodhor said Mundilikirwa had a hidden agenda for supporting the Cladho ‘illegal’ committee.

His colleagues also accuse him of misusing the organisation’s funds.

More cases

When contacted on Wednesday, Mundilikirwa refuted claims he was pursuing personal interests in the organisation.

“People allege that I am pursuing individual interests in this organisation. Which interests? The organisation does not make any profit, and I often have to use my own money to implement some activities of the organisation,” Mundilikirwa told The New Times.

The case of Liprodhor is not an isolated one.

And according to the RGB official, the complaints of similar nature they receive transcends NGOs. Even churches are embroiled in similar wrangles.

“Organisations come to us for conflict resolution, and when we investigate, we find most wrangles are based on conflict of interest. For example, a pastor who personalises church accounts or other property and the like,” said Bwenge.

Recent cases that have been in the spotlight include one where senior pastors at the Pentacostal Church of Rwanda (ADPR) called on RGB to help them replace a committee that was headed by Pastor Samuel Usabyimana, over allegations of corruption, genocide ideology among alleged offences.

In May 2012, RGB dissolved a committee of Rwandan Association for the Promotion of Family Welfare (ARBEF). This followed long-running internal wrangles resulting from several disagreements between the board and the executive committee.

Each side was accusing the other of nepotism, misappropriation of funds, among other allegations.

Upon dissolution of the organisation’s committee, RGB appointed an interim leadership team with individuals from outside the organisation to organise fresh elections.

Civil society protests

In some cases, RGB intervened in NGO wrangles by instituting an interim committee made up of external individuals.

This has often times attracted criticism from people saying the RGB interferes in civil society business.

This feeling is also shared by the head of the Civil Society Platform, Edouard Munyamariza.

“In the past, our organisations had no internal arbitration committees; now that we have them, they should be left with the mandate of resolving internal conflicts. If not, warring parties ought to go to court,” said Munyamaliza.

He said: “We will no longer tolerate RGB getting involved in the management of civil society organisations. There is no law giving them that mandate.”

But RGB officials maintain that regulation is their mandate and cannot let some institutions like ADEPR split, because of the impact it would have on the whole community.

“We even have the mandate to dissolve an organisation, but it’s not in our interests to dissolve any organisation that has been having a tangible social economic impact on the community. We prefer to do our best to save the situation,” said Bwenge.

Munyamaliza said that checks and balances within NGOs are at times misconstrued to be wrangles, saying that if well handled, these checks and balances would lead to proper institutional management.

“It is good that people are no longer blind. Maybe these wrangles are a sign of maturity,” he said.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News