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Goodbye 2017: Tough Assignments for New Prime Minister

by Daniel Sabiiti
12:37 pm

Senate President Bernard Makuza(l) and Primer Minister Dr. Edouard Ngirente (r) ponder on the next move after presenting the Government 7-year programme and National Strategy for Transformation before Parliament on September 26th, 2017

Dr. Edouard Ngirente bowed out of a lucrative job of adviser to the Executive Director of the World Bank in Washington DC and flew to Rwanda to take up the second most powerful job in the country – Prime Minister.

On Wednesday August 30 in the afternoon, the entire government filled up the parliament to witness the new Premier taking oath and President Paul Kagame presided over the session.

President Kagame had outlined the country’s 7-year development agenda soon after his re-election. It was evident that Ngirente had a tough assignment ahead and especially to deliver results.

Far from what could have been planned on his first agenda, the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had been engulfed by the review of government performance especially fighting corruption and mismanagement of tax payer’s money.

“The Prime minister is given up to eight months to implement parliament recommendations on each institution mentioned in the Auditor General’s Report audits” the committee members recommended on October 26.

The PAC report showed that out of 28 recommendations in 2012/13, only 13 were implemented, 14% half implemented representing a 46% total compliance, which also tantamount to the 8-year old burden. The committee showed how government funds are misused but this has remained a cycle which some MPs referred to as ‘unending curse’.

The Premier was asked to present a report of how these OAG and PAC recommendations were implemented and also show the way forward on how government has progressed in amending the penal code, to have cases of mismanagement penalised in the law.

(L-R) Jean-Philbert Nsengimana former ICT Minister and Dr. Musafiri Papias Malimba former Education Minister dropped from cabinet recently

In less than two months, Ngirente has followed through cleaning up his house sweeping out two ministers from the 30- member cabinet.

Major reshuffles in the cabinet, government parastatals, and firing of some district officials indicted for mismanagement of funds.

As a result a number of Senior government officials have been changes while others resigned and possibly more could follow suit as billions remain unaccounted for as a result of corruption in tendering processes and missing financial documentation.

For example government dragged to court its former employees over mismanaged funds, tender and procurement frauds and according to PAC findings, only Rwf115millions and $4000 was recovered out of over Rwf3billion and $6943 that was to be recovered.

The money was supposed to be recovered within a period of six months and cases not to take more than a year, but out of 378 resources mismanagement cases in court. Of the 78 cases battled in court, government won 68 cases, 42 were closed, and 90 cases still in court, and 68 cases have not been sent to court yet.

The lawmakers wanted to know where justice will come from especially that 46% of the recommendations were not implemented.

For eleven months, former State Minister for Mines, Evode Imena battled a court case in which he was charged of nepotism and breaching tendering procedures in issuing a mining permit. He was arrested in January and only to be cleared of the charges this December 7th, after serious fighting of bail battles.

Bitter fight Against Corrupt officials

Limitation on the war on embezzlement of government funds will soon come to an end once special judicial powers are given to the ombudsman in the proposed bill to change the law on penalizing cases of embezzlement.

The office of the ombudsman has said that corruption has been limited by legal structure, conflict between the ombudsman’s powers, prosecution and judicial procedures in which four out eight cases seen as embezzlement by the ombudsman were cleared by courts.

For example, Rutsiro district executive secretary was cleared by court due to lack of tangible evidence that a bank transfer of Rwf12million was sent to his spouse ‘in secret’ to qualify it as a corruption case even after the recipient received the transfer.

Former State Minister for Mines, Evode Imena(c) and his lawyers battled a court case from January until he was cleared of all charges on 7th December

In 2015/16 the ombudsman’s office assessed 1,088 declarations. In his report, the ombudsman said that among six officials who didn’t explained the origin of their declared assets, three of them are in prosecution, and other three are in process of investigation, while 60 were recommended for penalties.

The Ombudsman’s office has a target of handling at 95% and complete resolve the case at a level of 85%, but this has been impeded by capacity after 15% of the staff sought greener pastures.

Meanwhile, Rwanda and the Human Rights Watch for another round this year ended 365 days in an anticipated fabricated attacks on the country’s justice sector from the latter despite Rwandans being recognized for outstanding judicial reforms and signing eight of the nine treaties of the 68 year old Geneva Human Rights declaration.

Rwanda will be used as an example at the 70th anniversary of the International Human Rights day according to the United Nations Resident Representative, Dialo Ndiaye who commended Rwanda for taking the first step to accommodate Libya’s human trafficking victims on Africa and ratification of the 1948 Human rights conventions.

“Rwanda has showed cooperation and we are very pleased with the work done to ratify the treaties in promotion of civic, political and economic rights of citizen. This is clear testimony that we can achieve our goals despite challenges,” Ndiaye said at the 2017 Human Rights Day in Musanze.

This credit has seen Rwanda Human Rights Commissioner Nirere appointed as head of the Africa Human Rights network during a convention held in Kigali recently, but this recommendation is not enough.

Rwanda Parliament has forwarded a proposal to have the HRW memorandum of cooperation with Rwanda cancelled permanently and asked government to report measures taken to implement its resolutions- of which a certain answer is likely to be seen in 2018, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

Vincent Murekezi, handcuffed (centre) in Malawi has for two decades bribed his way out to evade extradition to Rwanda where he is wanted for involvement in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi at Tumba village, Huye district.

Jail Options for Genocide and Terror Suspects

Rwanda has continued a hunt for genocide suspects, most of them hiding in the southern African states and Europe. But 2018 will see suspects like Malawian Tycoon suspected of committing genocide in the southern province, sent to Rwanda or serve his sentence in Lilongwe city.

A new bilateral agreement between Rwanda and Malawi could see wanted Rwandan genocide Vincent Murekezi sent home to face trial on charges on committing genocide against Tutsi.

The Rwandan parliament is examining the benefits of the treaty and some lawmakers want the agreement signed onFebruary 23rd,  2017, to be fast tracked in pursuit of suspects living in Malawi.

Details of an extradition treaty, Prisons cooperation and prisoner exchange treaties will have to be approved by the senate before implementation most probably next year 2018.

Murekezi is one of the 36 Rwandan genocide suspects wanted for crimes committed in 1994. He is the only suspect currently under trial for the crimes, after having been tried for evasion of taxes and bribery in Malawi.

The suspect is still battling a court extradition trail in Malawi and Rwanda prosecution had earlier on received an official invitation to follow the case.

Another bilateral agreement was approved whereby Rwanda and Zambia will exchange convicted criminals in either country.

Rwanda also approved amendments on draft bill on terrorism which will see Rwanda collaborate with other countries in prevention and combating global terrorism of which a 7-members of a political group FDU-Inkingi and 44 Rwandan Muslims (including four children below 18) are in court accused of having links with the terror group in DR Congo and Al Shabaab and the Islamic State respectively.

Michel Umuhire(l) and Irenee Barahira the first born to former Rwandan Prime minister late Agathe Uwilingiyimana

Connecting with Former Premier’s children    

Twenty three years on, Children to former Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana’s were traced and found in Switzerland in good health but some of them have lost touch with the motherland and miss it dearly can’t wait to come back home.

Aged between 25 and 35, the children left Rwanda at a tender age when their parents were assassinated by the former regime which prepared and carried out the Genocide against Tutsi in 1994, killing more than one million.

Their last recollection on Rwanda is the last prayer of their parents in a family living room, the death of their parents, their narrow escape to a neighbour that was facilitated by United Nations’ Forces and then the boarding to Europe also facilitated by Blue Helmets.

Meanwhile, this year, Rwanda embarked on major reforms in penal laws, and parliamentary bills which changed Rwanda and will shape 2018.

The ministry of Justice (MINIJUST) has tabled a new bill seeking to completely overhaul the current penal code – with tougher and tighter punishment and deter citizens from getting involved in such crimes.

For instance, a 3-Year sentence awaits parents forcing children into street begging according Rwanda National Police.

Under the new law, any parent, guardian or anyone else that may force a child into street begging could face up to 3 years in prison.