26 March 2016

Rwanda to Make Public Names of Officials in Corruption Scandals

Rwanda President Paul Kagame spoke at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning. Kagame's administration has been very active on issues of women's empowerment.

The Rwandan Government will name high ranking officials convicted of embezzling public funds in a new move aimed at curbing corruption in public service.

As many as 75 national development projects are said to have stalled due to corruption and gross mismanagement. The said projects, valued at over Rwf125 billion (about $165m) while culpable institutions are mainly the ministries of infrastructure, education, agriculture, and Rwanda Development Board.

The delayed projects, according to officials, dented Rwanda's goals in poverty alleviation and infrastructural development.

Some of those stalled projects include the construction of a modern hospital in Muhanga District, valued at Rwf6 billion, an irrigation project in Ngoma District which started in January 2014 was barely implemented despite having a value of Rwf36 billion.

Construction of a regional ICT centre worth Rwf37 billion began in 2009 but to-date, only 26 per cent of it has reached completion yet the deadline for 2017 is just next year.

The construction of Rwf4 billion industrial parks in secondary cities, which started in 2011 and was expected to be completed in 2017, has stalled at 11 per cent.

Government usually borrows from donors and bodies like the African Development Bank and the World Bank to finance these projects, and according to experts, such mismanagement locks the country in debt.

In 2012, Rwanda borrowed $61 million for the construction of a 48 kilometre road linking the Kivu belt districts of Rubavu, Gisenyi and Karongi, but the project stalled.Only a section of the road linking Karongi and Rubavu has barely been constructed.

"We resolved to put more emphasis on recovering money lost through embezzlement and also advancing accountability of every public official. Not a single franc should be lost to corruption because Rwanda has development targets that require commitment, patriotism and professionalism," Stella Ford Mugabo, minister for Cabinet Affairs, said.

From the recently concluded Leaders' Retreat, Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning in the Ministry of Finance and Economic planning, Uzziel Ndagijimana, revealed that 75 national projects -- about 8 per cent of current total government projects -- had delayed due to suspected corruption.

Of those, eight big projects were "seriously suspected" to have been of mismanaged while only one has so far made it to court.

"Some officials are very cunning. Once legal proceedings against them on charges of corruption begin they transfer their assets to other names. So once they lose the case, it becomes difficult for government to seize these assets," Venantia Tugireyezu, minister in the President's office, said.

"We will use all measures necessary to apprehend corrupt officials, including publishing their names in media outlets."

To overcome this, MPs proposed the controversial use of "phone tapping" tools on public officials suspected of corruption, and use of "spies" in public premises to eavesdrop on conversations and institutional processes.

In 2014, the government released a list of 120 government officials convicted of embezzling over Rwf800 million.

However, there are concerns that the lists which are made public contain low-ranking officials, while senior officials who approve state payments and tenders are rarely mentioned.

Since 2004, Rwandan courts have handled 524 dossiers related to embezzlement of public funds, out of which 293 officials were convicted for corruption.

One of the top most resolutions from last year's Leaders' Retreat was to break corruption networks within government.

A report by Transparency International in January ranked Rwanda as the fourth least corrupt country in Africa and least corrupt in the East African region.


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