BY IGNATIUS SSUUNA AND GODWIN AGABA
CORRUPTION: AN ongoing probe into tender irregularities by the office of Prosecutor General has revealed disturbing findings in the Ministry of Public Services, Skills Development and Labour (Mifotra) involving awarding a tender to a non-existent company.
According to public service ministry officials, the physical location of the company, Papeterie la Colombe is not traceable since 2004.
“Some people say Papeterie la Colombe is in Kigali but we have gone everywhere without locating it,” public service and labour Director of Finance and Internal Resources, Alexis Ntagungira said on Monday.
This firm was awarded a tender worth Frw1.8 million to procure ministry office equipment, but the company has vanished without a trace.
“We are cross-checking every document to get to the root cause of this problem. We want to know who signed these documents,” Ntagungira explained.
Asked whether the 2004 acting Secretary General is responsible for the mess, Ntagungira declined to divulge more information, saying the ministry is yet to apportion blame.
The Secretaries General (SGs) are the chief accountants in their respective ministries and have the last say on giving out tenders.
Ntagungira said the ministry had tried to verify whether company owners had postal addresses, email or telephone numbers but in vain. He confirmed that some officials then in charge of this tender were either ‘removed’ or replaced.
The Deputy Prosecutor General Alphonse Hitiyaremye on Monday interrogated the SGs of both the ministry of education and that of public services, skills development and labour in connection with tender irregularities raised in the 2005 Auditor General’s report.
The Auditor General, Evelyn Kamagaju, revealed in her 2005 report that at least Frw3.6 billion was unaccounted for during that year.
According to the police sources, summonses were issued last Wednesday after the SGs allegedly failed to turn up to defend their ministries.
The SGs; Narcisse Musabeyezu (education) and Marceline Mukarurangwa (public service) were quizzed why tenders in their respective ministries were awarded without following normal tendering procedures.
Mukarurangwa and her director of finance were given one week to explain in writing why the company was given advance to buy office equipment before delivering the logistics.
“The Prosecutor General also wants to know how we shall recover the funds,” Mukarurangwa said on Monday, stressing that officials who handled the tender were being investigated.
By press time The New Times had not verified reports that the alleged ghost company reportedly belonged to an employee in the same ministry.
Musabeyezu (education) insists the Office of the Prosecutor General served his ministry with the summons unnecessarily. He said it was Rwanda National Examination Council (RNEC) that was implicated by the AG report in tender irregularities and not the education ministry.
The RNEC Executive Secretary John Rutayisire could not give a comment as he did not pick his cell phone.
Also interrogated on Monday were Kigali City Executive Secretary Pierre Clever Uwimana and the directors of National Programme against Malaria (PNLP) and Rwamagana Hospital.
Early this year, the Prosecutor General’s office wrote to the aforementioned Secretaries General and directors of 46 institutions to explain the alleged loss of public funds cited in the AG report.
The Prosecutor General is also currently investigating 22 leaders of public institutions for alleged irregular tendering procedures, causing the country to lose millions of funds.
Some of the leaders under probe are from the ministries of Infrastructure; Youth, Culture and Sports; Gender and Family Promotion; Lands and Environment; and Foreign Affairs.
Also under probe are OCIR THE (tea authority), Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and Kicukiro Secondary School.
Already cases of 12 institutions have been forwarded to courts of law over abuse of taxpayers’ money. They include the Rwanda Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN), ETO (Technical School) Muhima and the National Commission of Refugees (CNER).
Meanwhile, investigators from the Prosecutor General’s office have cleared the Rwanda Information Office (Orinfor), Ministry of Security and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of any wrongdoing.
Others cleared include Centrale d’Achats des Medicaments Essentiels du Rwanda (CAMERWA), Project Rwanda Genocide, Integrated Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCTI) and The National Youth Council of Rwanda (CNJR).