Rukarara ad-hoc committee to face disciplinary investigation
No one to be held responsible for mistakes in project
Members of the parliamentary ad-hoc committee that investigated the alleged mismanagement in the Rukurara power plant project face a disciplinary investigation after the plenary session of deputies recommended that they be investigated for possible misconduct during their investigations.
In its article 69, the constitution stipulates that “…each Chamber of Parliament may, in its internal regulations, make provisions for serious misconduct as a consequence of which a member of that Chamber may be removed from office. In such a case, the decision to remove the member from office shall be taken by a majority of three-fifths of the members of the Chamber concerned…”
The ad-hoc committee consisted of Evode Kalima (RPF), Aurelie Gahongayire (Women), Emmanuel Gatera (PDC), Charles Kamanda (PL), Theobard Mporanyi (RPF), Liberata Mukarindiro (Women) and Fortunee Nyiramadirida (RPF), and some of them are ill at ease about the pending investigation.
“I am worried, but I trust the disciplinary committee’s diligence,” said one of them on condition of anonymity. “I wish they understand that we didn’t commit those mistakes intentionally.”
In its report, the committee named John Rwangombwa, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (but at the time of the facts permanent secretary); Pichette Kampeta Sayinzoga, the PS at Minecofin; Eng. Albert Butare, the former State Minister in charge of Energy at Mininfra and his successor Colethe Ruhamya; former EWSA DG Sam Nkusi; former Mininfra PS Marie-Claire Mukasine; EWSA’s deputy DG Yussuf Uwamahoro and DG Yves Muyange; and engineer Emmanuel Kirenga. All were said to be involved in the mismanagement of funds meant to build Rukarara hydro-power plant intended to generate 9.5 Mw.
Parliament first got wind of possible mismanagement in the project from the Auditor General. In accordance with its procedures, it then called the ministers in charge of infrastructure and energy, yet their explanations were not deemed satisfactory and the Chamber of Deputies instituted its own investigation through an ad-hoc committee. The committee carried out investigations for over three months and presented its findings to the plenary, which initially agreed with the findings and its recommendations on March 28 including investigating and prosecuting individuals found culpable of mismanagement. These conclusions were then transmitted to the concerned bodies such as the ministry of justice for implementation.
However, those accused in the report did not take it lying down. “They accused us of something they didn’t ask us about! They make it look like MINECOFIN is the best in ‘mismanaging public funds’! How can one trust us to still manage the national patrimony while we are said to be the ones mismanaging the funds?” complained Minister John Rwangombwa.
For her part, Pichette Sayinzonga Kampeta, MINECOFIN’s PS, stated that the ad-hoc committee ‘lacked basic professionalism.’ “I don’t understand why the parliament took such a delicate decision without consulting us for an explanation. How do you explain that I have mismanaged public funds when I was away for studies? If they had consulted me they wouldn’t have accused me of such a serious crime,” she said indignantly.
As a result of these protestations, three weeks later an extraordinary session was held, with Parliament effectively reversing its earlier recommendations and instead asking the Public Accounts Committee to reinvestigate the matter. This was due to the fact that according to the deputies the report was based on ‘incomplete information’ and a ‘wrong methodology.’
The accused officials cited were thereafter consulted by PAC. “We found that the reportedly missing supporting documents were available. If the ad-hoc committee had done some cross-checking, they would have realized that the accused were not actually responsible,” declared PAC’s Chairperson Juvenal Nkusi.
When consulted by PAC, Sam Nkusi, the former EWSA DG, said: “The report tarnished my image as business man, therefore building mistrust in my customers. That’s insupportable.” He also refused to apologize for the letter he had sent to the media asking Parliament to retract what they had written about him.
On Tuesday July 31, after PAC cleared all the accused officials, the plenary session decided with 62 out of 76 votes that the ad-hoc committee must answer to the disciplinary committee, accusing the committee of incompetence. “They have not only tarnished the image of the concerned officials, but also that of parliament,” MP Yvonne Uwayisenga said.
As stated in the organic law N° 06/2006 of 15/02/2006 establishing internal rules of procedure of the chamber of deputies, in its article 56 the responsibilities of the committee in charge of assessment of the chamber of deputies activities, deputies’ conduct and legislative immunity are among others, “…. assessment of the activities of committees… follow up on the conduct of deputies and provision of advice in respect thereof both outside and inside the building of the chamber of deputies.” It also stipulates that “Deputies’ conduct and legislative immunity shall be bound by the strictest secrecy.”
According to Gabriel Semasaka, the disciplinary committee’s chairperson, the objective is mainly to assess if the errors were made intentionally. “Our main aim is to make sure that similar mistakes don’t occur again. We will do it diligently and according to the rule of law,” he said.
However, while PAC and the entire chamber of deputies have dismissed the ad-hoc committee’s report, it should not be forgotten that the auditor general did mention cases of mismanagement in the Rukarara project. “I agree with PAC to clear the accused individuals, but who has the financial responsibility?” asked MP Connie Sekamana Bwiza.
PAC’s conclusion in this respect was rather opaque. “The Rukarara project mismanagement was a collective responsibility. There were so many organs involved, parliament included. We vote the budget, we should have asked,” PAC chairman Juvenal Nkusi said.
They also apparently did not find it necessary to investigate how, and by whom, mistakes were made at Mininfra and Minecofin. “For such a huge project, you cannot expect no mistakes. They did their best; the hydropower plant is now running with a capacity of 9.16 mega watt. That’s what’s important,” Nkusi stressed.
So apparently the only one to be held responsible in this whole saga is EcoPower Global, the company constructing Rukarara plant, which has been fined US$ 700,000 for mistakes made in the project.