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Special Report

Every Rwandan Will Pay Rwf92,000 Annually To Live After 2020

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In 2009, at least every Rwandan started seeing a small blue single rotor helicopter hovering over their villages and some curious citizens asked local leaders what was going on- and the answer was that government was conducting a land mapping exercise.

After the Helicopter aerial mapping, there followed teams of people in every village that walked from plot to plot asking about demarcations and ownership and how it was acquired.

Rwanda has 26,338 square Kilometer of surface and is divided into 4 Provinces plus the City of Kigali 30 Districts 416 Sectors 2148 Cells. Before the land mapping, it was initially estimated that there were about 7.9 million parcels of land in Rwanda in 2148 cells.

Land mapping cost a total of U$60million contributed by government of Rwanda (25%), DFID: 55%, SIDA: 8%, Netherlands: 8%, European Commission: 3% and IFAD: 1%.

At the end of 2014, 10.67 million parcels of land had been demarcated and 8.6 million land titles issued to owners.

The land mapping idea was one of the best decisions the government had thought about and implemented because it resulted in the registration of land and thus vastly reducing on land disputes and resultant crimes connected.

Almost every Rwandan that owns land also has been Issued a land lease and certificate of land registration. For the first time, Rwandans expressed joy of full ownership of their land.

However, the enjoyment of land ownership has seemingly ended and whoever has land has begun to see it as not theirs because of the property tax levied on it annually, and when one fails to pay, the fines keep adding and could lead to a risk of losing it via public auction.

This new law was a result of ambitious deliberations during the 12th National Leadership Retreat (1-2 March 2015) at the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Combat Training Centre in Gabiro in Gatsibo district.

It was being argued that most districts relied on 90% funding from central government, thus the review of land tax law proposed to promote efficient land use and increase district revenues to enable them to provide basic infrastructure and other services to citizens.

By then Rwanda’s current fixed asset tax rate of 0.1% was considered too low compared to other countries in the region and beyond. The new law proposed an increase by 50% for each extra square meter beyond the set standard rate.

In January 2020, the government through a ministerial order issued new property tax arrangements which generally indicated increased prices of a square meter of land.

Considering that the largest population lives in rural areas, farming land is being charged from Rwf2 -10 per square meter while residential plot the owner has to pay between Rwf8-15 for every square meter.

For other areas depending on the zoning, a square meter of land is being charged from Rwf50-300 depending on your location.

For a rural Rwanda, living on a small parcel of land for their entire life cultivating crops to provide basic food for home consumption, this is going to be a very difficult situation to raise an annual tax for their land alongside other annual expenses such as Health insurance, security and home expenses.

President Paul Kagame Addressing the Nation on Monday

Precisely every Rwandan has to pay Rwf1000 monthly to facilitate community night patrols (irondo), health insurance for majority (Rwf 3000). For a residential plot of 30meters by 20meters equivalent to 600 square meters means the resident would pay 600 X 15 = Rwf9000, if the resident has the standard farming land of 80meters by 100meters means will pay (80 X 100) X 10 = Rwf80,000.

On average every rural Rwandan with standard farming land, residential plot requires to pay a minimum total amount of  Rwf80,000 + Rwf9000 + Rwf3000 = Rwf92,000.

However, it should be noted that Rwf92,000 is for property tax and health insurance for one person. This if one adds the family expenses, tuition for students and other miscellaneous expenses, the average Rwandan would not afford to keep the property.

On Monday President Paul Kagame addressed the nation and discussed several issues ranging from property tax, security, Covid-19 pandemic, the economy and many others.

The interactive session digitally linked the President to Rwandans across the country- they complained about the increment in property tax and requested him to intervene.

“This recent increase on land taxes is too high. Many citizens may not be able to pay and fear this could result to loss of their property through auction as a result of failure to pay,” Salton Niyitanga told President Kagame.

“It should be clear that land comes with a tax, and at this level we can look into the matter considering citizens incomes, the economy, and reasons why the tax was put in place then we find what is workable for many instead,” Kagame responded.

President Kagame said that his government will find a solution but without necessarily taking away the land tax regime.

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Special Report

SCANDAL: How A Group Of Young Rwandan Executives Are Swindling Billions Of Pension Funds

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Once upon a time, President Paul Kagame visited a North African country to cement bilateral relations.

While there, he noticed and admired something peculiar; a magnificent multi-million-dollar world-class golf course.

He returned home and asked officials whether Rwanda would invest in a global class golf course. They nodded. He gave them the blessings they needed.

In January 2018, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), as the lead institution comprised of several institutions, set up a joint committee to manage the funds and oversee the execution of the project.

The team would expropriate the then 9-hole Kigali Golf Course and secure funds to hire an international contractor to construct a world-class golf course and a clubhouse with international standards.

A French firm, Gregori International & Gary Player, was awarded a US$4 million contract to design and construct new 9-holes and repair the existing 9-holes.

All was well until RDB handed over the project to Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) as the beneficiary of the project.

Rwanda was about to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and there was the idea that a magnificent golf course would add value to the summit.

RSSB needed blessings from the Minister of Finance to invest massively into this facility.

Taarifa can confirm that the Minister, Uzziel Ndagijimana, wrote to the RSSB Director-General, then Richard Tusabe, now Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance in Charge of the National Treasury, giving him the power of attorney and authorising him to register a private company with RDB that would run the project.

A point to note, the letter was not dated, as lawyers advised Taarifa, an undated document is not lawfully binding.

However, if both parties proceed as if it had been dated, then implied decisions, contracts or assignments will arise based on the terms of the undated document, including using the document to backdate other documents and so on. It is an illegal document that facilitates illegal actions or wrong administrative procedures.

Tusabe would be replaced by Regis Rugemanshuro in February 2020.

In files seen by Taarifa, the company was created on August 9, 2019, three days after the RSSB Board Resolution authorizing its creation with a share capital of Rwf19.6 billion, and conferred all the rights to the management to choose the name and perform all formalities and legal procedures.

Strangely, the board resolution was notarized about two weeks after the creation of the company.

The company, Rwanda Ultimate Golf Course LTD (RUGC), began operations so quickly. The management was set up with its board, chaired by Alain Ngirinshuti, Josue Dushimimana as the Managing Director, Ntwali Kevin Habineza as a Board Member, Brian Kirungi as a Board Member and Patrick Gihana Mulenga also as a Board Member. The company reports to RSSB.

These would be the names that turned this whole project into failure, running the company like a private business, misusing the funds, abusing corporate governance practices, working without accountability and no financial audits conducted that led to the highest level of impunity and arrogance.

Illegal tenders

The moment the management took over from RDB, it maintained independence and would only allow the involvement of other stakeholders from a distance.

The moment RSSB transferred billions of francs into the company’s account, the team went on a spending spree.

They have been issuing tenders to suppliers without competitive bidding.

They issue payments without documents to back up invoices submitted by suppliers. All these are practices Taarifa established from hundreds of files acquired from a trusted source.

After months of carefully scrutinizing the documents and seeking expert views, this becomes our first story.

On August 26, 2019, the RSSB board sat in an extraordinary meeting to approve additional investment into the company to expand the course and develop it to meet USPGA standards after the management proposed its budget.

The budget had been increased from US$4 million to US$16 million.

According to the dossier of board resolutions seen by Taarifa, the management informed the board that the increase of the budget was because they had developed the course that meets the demanded standards within the given deadline from 18 to 9 months.

Disturbingly, the board did not only raise concerns and express reservations on the budget, the budget was presented without a detailed Bill of Quantities for the board to make arguments for negotiations or price comparisons.

Notably, the contractor, Gregori International, would remain the favoured firm. Their contract was extended without meeting lawful procedures.

Normally as per procurement laws, even in the initial set up of this company, extension or revision of the contract exceeding 20% requires an institution to call for competitive bidding.

In this case, what RUGC LTD did was to write to a pre-selected number of firms requesting them to submit their proposals.

Taarifa can reliably confirm that this was a mere formality because the decision to hire Gregori International had been made in separate meetings.

How did Taarifa know? Apart from trusted sources confirming this fovour towards Gregori International, we have a copy of minutes from a negotiation meeting between the company and a technical committee held three days after the registration of RUGC; on August 12, 2019.

Three meetings were held from 12th to 14th August at the Kigali Golf Course Boardroom to discuss awarding the firm an extended contract.

Eleven people from RDB, RSSB, KGC, Gregory International, RUGC LTD attended the meetings.

Before the RSSB board meeting of August 27 that approved the budget, this technical committee sat and discussed with Gregori International.

At first Gregori International presented an outlandish proposal to the tune of US$19 million.

The technical committee was worried the figure was too high and would be difficult to convince the RSSB board to get it approved.

The team agreed to cut it to US$12 million (taxes included). It means Gregory International would pocket US$16 million (the initial US$4 million and the extra US$11 million).

Golf Course not ready

Signatures were penned and funds were transferred. Until today, the course has never been ready.

The management of RUGC LTD is in bed with the contractor. Taarifa has evidence of unethical behaviour by the contractor and members of RUGC LTD.

The contractor would submit invoices for unfinished work and funds would be transferred nonetheless.

Approvals for the transfers would be made by both the Chairman and the Managing Director themselves.

By June 2020 when CHOGM was supposed to happen, the Golf Course was not yet ready.  They tossed to a god that saved them from a catastrophe of embarrassing the country.

After the postponement of CHOGM, the management of RUGC LTD worked harder and hoped they would have the Course ready by June 2021.

Their god was working so hard, CHOGM was again postponed before the course was ready. Both the contractor and RUGC LTD have never explained why the course has not been completed.

Taarifa’s assessment is that the reason is due to the lack of RUGC LTD’s moral authority to hold the contractor accountable.

Sources say the contractor has been offering members of the management kickbacks, although no evidence was provided to prove the allegations, looking at the relationship between the two, it is a no brainer.

Maintenance contract

Meanwhile, Taarifa can also confirm that the same contractor was awarded a tender to maintain the Golf Course.

Normally, the contractor cannot be the one winning the maintenance contract, unless several other suppliers have failed to do the job.

Sickeningly, the firm pockets maintenance fees before it has completed the construction work as per contractual terms.

At the beginning of June 2021, the contractor marvelled through most of the golf course and recklessly sprayed it with a harmful chemical.

A large portion of the multi-million-dollar course was burnt and is beginning to see life again two months later.

It all began with the supplier ignoring the content of the soil sample that needed specific chemicals and fertiliser pillage as reported in our earlier story below.

Taarifa tried to reach out to Alain Ngirinshuti for answers about all these issues. We sent him a long list of questions several days ago. He promised to revert. He never did and could not return calls anymore.

Regis Mugemanshuro (Left) receives instruments of RSSB from predecessor Richard Tusabe (Right): Photo by Igihe

We also reached out to RSSB Director-General Regis Mugemanshuro. He ignored our queries too.

We tried to reach to RDB CEO, Clare Akamanzi, she was not available for comment by press time.

Our next story into our investigations will follow soon.

Editor’s Note:

Alain Ngirinshuti

Here are the questions Alain Ngirinshuti couldn’t answer

  1. Are you aware of any issues of financial mismanagement at KGC?
  2. If yes, have you done anything?
  3. What is your level of involvement in contracting suppliers?
  4. Has the board ever expressed concern regarding any contract and what did you do in response?
  5. Why has the contractor not yet handed over the course?
  6. What was the basis for contracting the same company that built the course to maintain the course before it even handed it over?
  7. The course would have been used during CHOGM, as far as we know. What happened that it’s not yet ready now?
  8. Some suppliers have signed contracts without any competitive bidding. Examples include GI’s contracts. What was the basis?
  9. This is an Rwf19b investment from pension funds. How will pensioners recover their money? What’s the nature of the business…is it a direct return on investment and for how long?
  10. One of the board resolutions of the August 26, 2019 meeting is that the course must be USPGA standard….is this what GI produced? And is it part of the terms in their contract?
  11. Did you engage an independent PGA accredited (quality auditor ) verifier to ascertain what’s in GI’s terms of reference?
  12. What exactly happened at the course when it was burnt. Who is responsible? What’s the estimated loss? Will there be compensation?
  13. As chairman, and from the appointing authority, what are your responsibilities?
  14. As chairman, do you get involved in day-to-day financial transactions and approvals of the company?
  15. Who do you report to? How many reports have you produced ever since you were appointed? Are these reports public? If no, why?

Here are questions RSSB Director-General couldn’t answer

  1. Has RSSB ever conducted an audit into the KGC project?
  2. If yes, what did you find out?
  3. If no, why not?
  4. Several tenders were issued without competitive bidding. Are you aware? If yes, what did you do?
  5. How much in total has RSSB invested into KGC?
  6. What was/is the philosophy behind this investment and how will the funds be recovered?

 

Multimillion-dollar Kigali Golf Course Recklessly Destroyed By Harmful Chemicals

 

 

 

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Special Report

Legal Analysis: Rwanda’s Approval Of Prime Minister’s Order On Human Trafficking, Victim’s Protection Is Great Step

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Rwanda has adopted a Prime Minister’s Order for the protection of Human trafficking Victims and this is a big step towards conformity with main international instruments on human trafficking that Rwanda has ratified, notably- including among others, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, 2000 (commonly known as the Palermo Protocol).

It was not until 2012, that trafficking in persons was criminalized and punished under Law N° 01/2012/OL of May 2, 2012 Instituting the Penal Code of Rwanda, which criminalized for the first time “Offences related to Human Trafficking, Illegal Removal, Sale and Use of Human Body Organs.

In 2018, Human Trafficking was legislated with a specific law N° 51/2018 of August 13, 2018 Relating to the Prevention, Suppression, and Punishment of Trafficking in Persons and Exploitation of Others, Official Gazette N° 39 of September 24, 2019 (Hereinafter “Rwandan Anti-Trafficking Legislation”).

It is in the light of the state responsibilities derived from such international instruments that Rwanda has adopted various measures aimed at combating human trafficking and in the meantime dealing with its negative aftermaths. In that regard, that a Counter Trafficking Legislation is in force.

It is therefore important and evident that the Rwandan Counter-trafficking legislation has remained in conformity with the international anti-trafficking laws, especially the Palermo Protocol. Such conformity is usually assessed in mirrors of criminalisation, victim protection and prevention.

Rwandan anti-trafficking law provides for protection of human trafficking victims which is in conformity with the provisions of the Palermo Protocol especially in its article 6 which creates obligations to its state parties to this protocol.

Protective mechanisms for human trafficking victims under Rwanda law (especially in its Articles Art. 10, 11, 12,13) include; keeping the identity of the victims confidential, preventing them from discrimination of any kind, giving them special treatment, repatriation of foreign victims or even allowing them to stay in Rwanda, plus not holding them criminally liable for illegal entering Rwanda as well as several exclusive protective measures for child victims inter alia.

The Palermo Protocol aims at three main objectives as provided in its article 2 and those are; (a) To prevent and combat trafficking in persons, paying particular attention to women and children; (b) To protect and assist the victims of such trafficking, with full respect for their human rights; and (c) To promote cooperation among States Parties in order to meet those objectives.

The scope of Palermo Protocol covers the acts of human trafficking which are cross boarder or transnational as stipulated in its article 4.

However, Rwandan anti-trafficking law under its article 11 paragraph 2, in as far as victim protection is concerned provided for a specific ministerial order that would detail all the kinds of protective measures to the victims of human trafficking. In Article 11, Paragraph 2 of the Rwandan Counter Trafficking legislation, it states that; “An Order of the Minister provides for other particular means for support to the victim and services made available to him/her.”

The ministry referred to therein is the ministry in charge of justice. Additionally, the anti-trafficking law provides for a Prime Minister’s order which has been approved by the cabinet of July 14, and this is a big step towards victim protection as outlined above. Article 15 of the Rwandan counter-trafficking legislation provides “A Prime Minister’s Order determines an organ responsible for providing necessary means to cover the cost of transportation and repatriation to Rwanda of the victim and modalities for their allocation.

The Prime Minister’s order, has therefore come as a guarantee to victim’s protection required by the Rwandan law.

The author is an advocate with the Rwanda Bar Association and a PhD Researcher at Tilburg University Graduate Law School, Netherlands, focusing on dynamics and challenges of addressing human trafficking in Rwanda in view of the emerging investigations and prosecutions.

 

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Crime

Tracking Murder Of Ghana’s Social Activist

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Ghanaians are currently digesting the troubling murder of a popular social actvist and the matter is spiraling into a national security issue.

Taarifa has been carefully following up on this case and coroborating with local media reports in the west African country.

The Ashanti Regional Police Command has arrested three persons for the murder of social activist, Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka Macho whose death sparked clashes leading to the killing of two others in Ejura.

At least six people sustained various degrees of injury after some angry youth clashed with a police-military team in the Ashanti regional town.

Ghana’s JoyNews, the media station which has been at the forefront of the news coverage in the farming community, has been cataloging how suspects believed to have played a role in the murder were arrested.

On June 26, 2021, Haruna Mohammed of Ejura lodged a complaint with the Ejura police that on the same day at 01:30 hours, his younger brother Ibrahim Mohammed, 45 was returning home on his motorbike when he was ambushed by an unknown assailant.

According to him, while the deceased was entering his house, the assailant(s) attacked and hit his occipital region with a stick and he fell to the ground unconscious.

He was rushed to the Ejura Government Hospital and later referred to KATH for further treatment.

At 14:30 hours, the Ejura police, in the company of the complainant, Haruna Mohammed, proceeded to the crime scene at Dagomba Line in Ejura and pointed to a club stained with blood at the entrance of house Number Plot 267 Block H as the possible murder weapon.

Police took photographs and retrieved the blood-stained club for evidential purposes.

Spot enquiry could not lead to any suspect(s) to the crime but a female tenant confirmed that she was in her room when she heard the arrival of the victim on his motorbike.

According to her, she later heard a loud shout which made her come out of the room, only to find the victim lying unconscious in a pool of blood.

Kaka

She said, with the assistance of others, they rushed him to the Ejura Government Hospital. Statements were taken from the complainant and others but they could not mention the name of any suspect.

Police investigators then extended enquiry to the hospital where the victim was met at the Emergency Ward and was attended to by the Medical Officer, Dr. Mensah Menye.

The deceased was later referred to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi.

Meanwhile, the Police had contacted credible informants in the area to volunteer vital information to aid in the arrest of the perpetrators of the crime.

June 27, 2021:
The investigator in the case, General Constable Sam-Sowah Sylvester, left his Ejura-base station for Kumasi to visit the victim and to possibly issue a medical form.

Ibrahim Mohammed, after his referral from Ejura Government Hospital, remained in an unconscious state.

June 28, 2021:
Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka Macho died whilst on admission at KATH at 01:40 hours. His demise cast a shadow of things to come.

The youth of Ejura at 18:30 on June 28, 2021, went on a rampage. They took to the streets and later besieged the Ejura Police station.

The youth, in the process, caused damage to a Toyota RAV4 4×4 vehicle with registration number AS 4910–14 which belongs to Inspector Kofi Agyapong from the Mampong Divisional headquarters. They also destroyed the lighting system at the charge office of the Ejura Police Station.

At 22:45 hours, the police picked up intelligence that the victim, Ibrahim Mohammed, also known as Kaaka, was attacked and wounded with a club by Ibrahim Issaka and Fuseini Alhassan, a butcher.

With the assistance of the Formed Police Unit and the Special Weapons and Tactics teams, the two suspects were arrested at the Ejura–Sekyedumase District Assembly Revenue checkpoint to assist with investigations.

Suspect Ibrahim Issaka, also known as Anyaas, described as a ticket seller was chased by some angry youth who wanted to lynch him for his alleged involvement in the murder of Kaaka Macho.

Sensing danger and in an apparent attempt to save his life, Issaka abandoned his motorbike at the checkpoint.

Police found the checkpoint vandalized by the rampaging youth who stole an unspecified amount of money collected during the day.

Photographs were taken at the scene for evidential purposes and suspects sent to Asante Mampong to be detained.

On June 29, 2021;The body of the late social activist was released to the family for burial in line with Islamic custom.

The Ashanti Regional Police Command deployed men to provide security and move side-by-side with mourners; a majority of whom were youth.

Personnel of the Formed Police Unit and the Special Weapons and Tactics teams deployed earlier to the community took strategic positions at the Ejura Police Station and the offices of the Ejura Sekyedumase Municipal Assembly after police picked up intelligence that the two establishments could become targets of the angry youth.

But all hell broke loose when the angry youth, whilst returning from the cemetery after the burial of Kaaka, started attacking anything in NPP colours, including meeting venues for the youth group, Kandahar. Some of them also burnt car tyres in the middle of the road.

The police team, all this while, could not fire any warning shot, since they were instructed not to do so until a reinforced military team arrived.

The rest is history…

2 dead, 4 injured as military and police clash with protesting Ejura youth

June 30, 2021:
At about 9 a.m, a brother of Ibrahim Mohammed, Iddi Mohammed also known as Chuburus, a Blacksmith was arrested at his Dagomba Line residence to assist police with investigations.

July 1,2021:
Suspects arrested in connection with the gruesome murder of Ibrahim Mohammed ‘Kaaka’ were transferred from Asante Mampong where they had been in custody since their arrest to the Ashanti Regional Police headquarters.

July 2, 2021: Three suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Kaaka in Ejura-Sekyedumase made their maiden appearance before the Asokwa District Court in Kumasi.

The pleas of Issaka Ibrahim, also known as Anyaase, Fuseini Alhassan and Iddi Mohammed, were not taken when they appeared before the court presided over by Her Worship, Akua Adu Boahen.

They were charged with conspiracy to commit crime and murder contrary to Section 46 of the Criminal Offences Act of 1960.

The court was told the chilling account of how the deceased was attacked at about 1:30 am whilst returning home on his motorbike. (Ejura murder: Chilling account of how social activist was murdered in cold blood)

They were remanded after the Prosecutor, Chief Superintendent Kofi Blagodzi prayed the court for more time for the police to thoroughly investigate the case.

Other details adapted from Myjoyonline

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