Two officials of Rwanda Education Board (REB) have been thrown out of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for telling lies in front of the committee’s public hearing.
The lies emerged after the two officials mislead the committee on the Auditor General report on how some government education programs failed to be implemented.
The first victim was Anita Batamuliza, REB acting procurement officer who, during the PAC hearing on Thursday, September 12, 2019, was asked to explain how over 400 cows meant for teachers were distributed under a fraudulent tender which resulted into death of some cows of beneficiaries due to foot and mouth diseases and failure to give birth to young ones.
These incidences, according to the parliament, were reported by beneficiaries and nothing was done since the tender (won by Rwimbogo ltd) was secured without considering security guarantee procedures.
The parliament asked Batamuliza to explain how these cases were not addressed yet the tender was closed and the contractor fully paid.
“I didn’t get any report on these issues and when the reports were sent they were late, just in days before the tender closed,” Batamuliza said amid disbelief from the committee members.
Parliament was not convinced with explanation and asked REB Director in charge of Teacher Management and Staffing, Johnson Ntagobaramba to explain why the reports came late.
In response, he said: “I am not pointing fingers but the truth is told I have since 2017 been writing official reports to inform REB officials and nothing was done. That is all my reports are in writing,” Ntagobaramba stated.
Analysing this, PAC chairman, MP Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze ordered Anita Batamuliza to get out immediately. “How can a mother be bold enough to lie to all of us and accuse another person of what they didn’t do? You don’t need to be in this hearing,” Ngabitsinze said.
This is not the first time PAC has thrown out government and civil servants in a public hearing. A similar recent case was witnessed in June 2018, under the leadership of MP Juvenal Nkusi, who also ordered Emmanuel Mwumvaneza – Nyagatare district budget officer, over contempt of the committee and alleged rude responses to questions he was asked.
The other victim thrown out of the 2019 PAC hearing was Seth Buhigiro, REB director of school connectivity when PAC was probing an official who failed to address issues of 200 idle Positivo laptops which lay in Nyagatare district because of breaking down.
Despite the MPs asking several times, Buhigiro stayed seated and unbothered. “We want to know who was contacted about this issue to the extent that Nyagatare district officials brought the laptops to REB offices and were told to return back?” asked Ngabitsinze.
Some REB officials including those in charge of ICT tried to explain, saying that REB handles hundreds of requests a day and it is not easy to pin out a single case.
However, MP Ngabitsinze insisted that despite the issue of damaged idle Positivo laptops lying idle countrywide because of no electricity supply, the local district officials wrote to REB informing them but no single response was given, at least in view of the PAC field reports.
“We responded to many requests but also told the district officials that we didn’t have the capacity to repair the laptops since they had an operating version and we lacked spare parts,” Dr Christine Niyizamwiyitira, the Head of ICT in Education Department at REB.
After looking into the details of the OAG report, MP Ngabitsinze found out that it was Buhigiro who actually handled the Nyagatare case.
When asked by MPs to explain why he didn’t step up, Buhigiro responded: “I was not really sure to say yes or no, that is because I don’t remember the case,” he said.
PAC chairman spent two minutes reflecting on the next step and ordered Buhigiro to step out of the September house immediately because of undermining the committee and failure to take responsibility.