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Have Anti-Corruption Crusaders Been Corrupted?

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Corruption and mechanisms to combat it can be a complex phenomenon. If there is any emotive issue but which tends to galvanize Rwandans to support their government’s policy stand, without qualification, it is the fight against corruption. Both elite and peasant collectively concur that corruption must be confronted at any cost.

Fortunately, popular sentiment among the citizens is that there are no sacred cows in Rwanda when incidences of corruption become exposed. Indeed, examples abound in this regard.

However, the anti-corruption state agencies in their various shades but especially the prosecution service by virtue of the centrality of its function and visibility in the fight against corruption ought to ensure that the chase remains on course and does not digress into mediocrity or become a misguided arsenal.

Minimum expectation among everyone who cares to mind is that fair play, and intelligence must guide the fight against corruption.

But the fight is greatly threatened when fissures become obvious in the way investigations are carried out and prosecution of the alleged offenders is conducted.

The common risk is that rather than being popularly perceived as the people’s fight it becomes ignominiously degraded to unprincipled witch hunt thereby making corruption hard to rout.

The recent case involving Rwanda Transport Development Agency (RTDA), Roads Maintenance Fund (RMF), ECOAT Ltd, and CAVICON Consultants highlight undesirable gaps in the fight against corruption as far as infrastructure projects are concerned.

In about 2016 the RTDA selected ECOAT Ltd as the contractor for the maintenance of Muhanga-Karongi Paved Road (74Km) over THREE years separated in Phases (read terms) of 12 months each.

The RTDA also contracted CAVICON Consultants as supervising engineer to oversee the maintenance works carried out by ECOAT Ltd. Besides, RTDA and Road Maintenance Fund (RMF) each also appointed site technicians to represent them on the site to ensure quality control and the appropriate volume of works were invoiced.

Essentially, the function of supervising engineer/Consultant is to represent the project owner (RTDA) by monitoring compliance to applicable codes, practices, QA/QC, performance standards and specifications, including the approval of invoiced quantities for completed works.

The project engineer practically helps to interpret for the contractor the client’s needs and requirements and representing them on the site.

In April 2020, the MD for ECOAT was arrested by RIB triggered by the complaint of the RTDA alleging that ECOAT had poorly performed certain sections of the road, billed for non-performed works, and overestimated the volume/quantity of evacuated landslides to maintain the road in a serviceable state.

There is an interesting irony of note that the inspection by the DG of the RTDA which discovered the poor works was carried out on 4/4/2020, RIB was informed about it on 4/4/2020, and the Managing Director of ECOAT Ltd was arrested on 4/04/2020, while another technical report confirming the anomalies discovered by the Director General of RTDA was made one a day later on 6/4/2020, and ECOAT Ltd received a Certificate of good performance.

What is mind boggling, however, is that all along during the performance of the contract, the quality of the works and volume to be invoiced were verified and approved by the RTDA’s agents on the Site and later by the Director Generals of both the RTDA and RMF before the invoices could be paid.

Moreover, about one week later on 12 April 2019 the RTDA through its Director General Mr. Imena MUNYAMPENDA had issued to ECOAT Ltd a certificate of successful completion of the works in which the contractor was unequivocally praised for carrying out and completing the works in accordance with the terms and condition of the contract.

Any discerning folk can find it thought-provoking what might have intervened thereafter and motivated the Director General of RTDA to take a 3600  about-turn and allege to RIB that ECOAT had invoiced and received payment for non-performed works, while in certain invoices they were paid twice for the same works yet there were mechanisms in place to mitigate malpractice from happening, including performance guarantees to cushion any arising losses.

Anyone would be excused to believe that had the RTDA genuinely cared about efficiency of the works and cost implications their first victim ought to have been their agents on site not the MD of ECOAT unless the later had fraudulently sabotaged the scrutiny of the project supervisors on site, for which neither the RTDA alleged nor the RIB & Prosecution raises in the indictment.

As if the above wasn’t surprising enough, Taarifa has reliably leant that attempt by the Court to conduct independent investigations on the road sections that form the basis of the charge against the MD for ECOAT have been fraudulently frustrated by deliberate obstruction of the evidence, yet the prosecution had assured Court in writing that the concerned road sections were preserved as evidence.

Recently while scrutinizing the Auditor General’s report the RTDA was put to task to explain how the contractor could have received more than they should have received but no satisfactory answers were provided.

Shouldn’t the party that supervised, approved the works and invoices (RTDA) be in the dock rather than the one who raised the invoices? Should the RIB or Prosecution be allowed to raise charges against anyone but carryout investigations to justify the charge a posterior?

At least this should be a reasonable inference unless the contrary suggesting complicity by the Contractor can be proven.

It is such opaque and suspected scheming that shall hamstring the fight against corruption as the true culprits remain scot-free, and remain pandering as the true crusaders against corruption.

It would be a façade for the fight against corruption to be measured by the staggering figures of persons arraigned and prosecuted in court without shining a spotlight on the credibility of the allegations against the accused.

May the crusade against corruption remain steadfast and firm!

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National

Uganda Dumps More 47 Rwandans At Border

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Rwandan authorities on Saturday received an extra 47 Rwandans expelled by Uganda authorities.

Details indicate that Uganda Immigration authorities on Saturday afternoon deported 47 (including;29 males and 9 Females and 9children) Rwandan nationals from Uganda accused of illegal entry and stay.

“They are going to be tested of Covi-19 and will be interviewed for more details,” Rwanda authorities said.

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Minister Ugirashebuja In DRC For EAPCCO General Meeting

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The Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, on Friday, October 15, attended the 23rd Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO) annual general meeting in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The meeting for Council of Ministers responsible for Police affairs in the 14-member countries, preceded the Council of Police Chiefs held on Thursday under the theme “Enhancing law Enforcement Strategies in Combating Transnational Organized Crimes in the Wake of COVID-19 and Beyond.”

EAPCCO member states are Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

The ministers appreciated EAPCCO member countries for their effort in combating terrorism and transnational organized crimes through enhanced cooperation and collaboration.

While officially opening the meeting, the Prime Minister and Chief of Government for DRC, Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, emphasized the importance of sub-regional organizations in the fight against transnational organized crimes.

“There is need to foster cooperation and to build capacity of law enforcement officers, continually share information and conduct due diligence on suspects,” Lukonde said.

He commended member countries for the continued support to DRC President, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo in his roles as the current President of African Union.

DR Congo took over the chairmanship for both councils of Police Chiefs and ministers responsible for the Police affairs, from Tanzania.

The ministers welcomed the decision by the Council of Police Chiefs to elevate the Marine Police College in Mwanza, Tanzania to EAPCCO Centre of Excellence in Maritime Police training.

DR Congo was also given the responsibility to establish a regional operation unit under EAPCCO Counter Terrorism Centre of Excellence (CTCoE) to collect, analyze and disseminate terrorism related information for action.

Other resolutions include expediting EAPCCO Centers of Excellence by host countries, strengthening sharing of crime-related information on transnational organized crimes and heightening the use of Interpol policing capabilities to facilitate the process.

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Thomas Sankara’s Assassination Trial Adjourned To October 21

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Burkina Faso’s former president Thomas Sankara was assassinated 34 years ago in a military coup bringing an end to a charismatic Marxist revolutionary widely known as ‘Africa’s Che Guevara’.

Immediately after Sankara’s murder, his wife Mariam Sankara and their two children Philippe Sankara and Auguste Sankara fled to Burkina Faso in 1987.

Thomas Sankara seized power in a 1983 coup at the age of 33 with promises to tackle corruption and the dominance of former colonial powers.

Mariam Sankara on Monday flew back to Ouagadougou for the opening of the trial of her husband’s murder. 14 people are accused of plotting the assassination.

Among the accused includes Blaise Compaore the man who was a close ally to Mr Sankara. Blaise Compaore led a military coup that toppled Sankara and his immediate execution.

Compaore went on to rule the West African nation for almost three decades before he himself was ousted and fled to neighbouring Ivory Coast.

This trial has been highly awaited as the murder of Sankara has mysterious ramifications and has remained a very sensitive subject across the continent.

At the opening trial, Compaore was not present. The former first lady told media that the absence of former president Blaise Compaoré, the main suspect in her husband’s assassination, was a “shame”, adding: “I really hope that this trial will shed some light.”

However, Compaore’s lawyers said on Friday that he would not attend the trial, and Ivory Coast has refused to extradite him.

She said, “this trial is needed so that the culture of impunity and violence that still rages in many African countries, despite the democratic facade, stops indefinitely.”

Other suspects in the murder of Sankara include; Hyacinthe Kafando (Compaore’s former head of security), Gen. Gilbert Diendere, a former spy-master.

According to details, the hearing was held in the Ouaga2000 conference centre in the capital, Ouagadougou. Twelve other defendants appeared at the hearing and all pleaded not guilty.

The military tribunal opened the proceedings, then adjourned the hearing until Oct. 25, after defence lawyers asked for more time to prepare their case, court officials said.

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