The Parliament has given the Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) up to six months to resolve underlying issues including failure to utilize an information system that cost the government over Rwf206 million.
In their finding, the committee found out that RCA doesn’t know the exact number cooperatives countrywide and the figures they have are contradictory to the one presented by each of the 30 districts.
The committee also found that RCA doesn’t implement its own directives handed over to cooperatives and thus causing poor governance and a low up take on citizens registered membership in cooperatives but rather prefer to join small savings groups (Ibimina).
MPs were also stunned to hear that RCA also purchased a tech- based system – The Cooperative Management Information System (CMIS) with 13 modules at a cost of Rwf206million but only one module is being used and also that some cooperatives don’t have internet and electricity to access the operating module.
In their explanation, the then acting RCA boss Pacifique Mugwaneza (now Division Manager) said that the unused modules were because some of the district officials who are supposed to use them are not yet trained.
On the underutilized system module, MP Christine Bakundufite said that there is no value for money and demanded an explanation why the staff were not trained in the first case.
Committee Chairperson Munyageyo replied that it was not right to invest in the system without having people trained and stated that is a problem of value for money.
“RCA says that they will improve this system following the consultations we have with them, but this was a wrong approach to have a system and not train staff, however we will follow up in six months,” Munyangeyo said.
MP Benoit Senani showed that in their field visits, many citizens preferred to join savings groups instead of joining cooperatives which puts their shares at risk as this domain is not currently regulated.
Committee Chairperson Munyageyo said though this was not in the scope of work, it is true the concerns were evident as a governance issue and this need to be addressed to increase more membership in cooperatives.
MP Damien Nyabyenda also asked if the committee resolve can be possibly implemented yet there are some cooperatives that cannot access the existing system (and its one module).
Munyangeyo said that the most urgent aspect is to have citizens and existing members added into the system and cluster, and proposed that while RCA doesn’t have the potential, the solution can be to use ICT youth ambassadors.
Munyangeyo said they will work with the line ministry to use the services of youth ICT volunteers to register coop members and other ICT related functions that need immediate attention.
In the meantime, the former RCA boss, Prof. Jean Bosco Harelimana is currently on trial over suspected charges of mismanagement and misuse of public resources.