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Rwanda Cycling Mauled By Sexual Abuse, Fraud, Impunity

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Because cycling in Rwanda is handled by someone with connections leading to the corridors of power, he is allegedly using this privilege to do anything as he wishes in running the affairs of the cycling federation.

Sexual abuse, internal disagreements, abuse of power, fraud in broad day light and resource mismanagement are the septic wounds that are crippling the Rwanda Cycling Federation (FERWACY).

Federation members are terrified and believe that their supreme boss taps their phones.

He has created a sense of fear and regularly reminds them that the Federation is his. He says all cyclists are his properties and nobody should dare question him about how he runs the affairs of the federation.

Our sources said the federation boss, Aimable Bayingana, who also holds a sensitive post in the ruling party, RPF, has been reported to some of his seniors and it is when he began making a few changes in the federation.

He was apparently told that failure to make proper changes within the federation as cautioned by an intervention from the ruling party has caused two Vice Presidents of the federation to seek for another conflict management committee.

A reliable source has also told Taarifa that in September 2019 when President Paul Kagame flew to New York to attend the 74th Session of the General Assembly and later attending an event at Saddleback church in California, he was informed about the problems at Ferwacy.

“One of our big supporters over the decade was the one who met with Kagame after talking to us,” the source said without revealing the identity of this person.

Taarifa has seen an internal memo written and signed on October 22, by Benoit Munyankindi 1st Vice-President and Francois Karangwa 2nd Vice-President. They jointly want to address disturbing challenges that have engulfed the federation and intentionally ignored for ten years.

“Please, we are begging you as a committee to bring us together and help solve disagreements between us and prevent further conflicts in the organization,” reads part of the three-page letter (translated from Kinyarwanda).

Details of this letter also indicate that Karangwa and Munyankindi would want the committee to summon Aimable Bayingana as the Ferwacy President so that they jointly discuss six major concerns as outlined.

Foremost, there has been lack of implementation of recommendations from the general assembly and usually minutes of the meetings are never shared after.

Another concern is that procurement procedures are not respected while tenders are awarded in violation of the federation’s regulations.

These two officials have also reported to us that there is need to clearly separate the roles and duties of the Secretary General (SG) from the Managing Director (MD), believed to be Bayingana’s planted sycophant, because his overlapping positions have failed decision making.

In particular, these men are questioning the rationale of the appointment of the MD, Touissant Nosisi, holding both positions.

As a result of this dredging problem, cyclists have drastically lost morale, because they currently can spend more than four months without any facilitation even when the money is available.

Cyclists have at some point gone on strike because for failure to receive Frais de mission from races throughout the year.

The institution is also entangled with illegal procurement of items with no connection to cycling. Taarifa can confirm that there has been procurement of some items without consulting other managers who run the federation.

Sexually Harassing Female Cyclists

Taarifa has also reliably learnt that Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) is conducting detailed investigations within the federation after whistleblowers clandestinely leaked information about repeated sexual abuse against female cyclists.

Female cyclists and the lower ranking staff of the federation have been living in fear of exposing sexual predators in the federation because, according to them, these are highly connected individuals.

Unfortunately, information of sexual molestation has remained an internal tightly guarded secret.

“No RIB investigations at Ferwacy as far as I know,” Bayingana told Taarifa through the MD.

However, a federation staff on condition of anonymity told Taarifa that she would never keep quiet about the abuse, “I would never let any injustice happen under my face without me doing anything. I really think it’s best to handle this internally.”

On May16, 2017, Richard Mutabazi, the Director of Africa Rising Cycling Centre(ARCC) sent an email to FERWACY President informing him that Cycling coach Straton Mbazumutima was behaving inappropriately towards female cyclists.

“Reference made to the recent case where one of the coaches, Straton misbehaved vis-à-vis our girl riders. We have developed a policy that will protect athletes from any sort of sexual abuse, at the same time protecting coaches and staff from being wrongly indicted for such an improper conduct…,” Mutabazi said in the mail.

The concern from the riders is that although Mbazumutima admitted his behavior to Mutabazi with the full knowledge of Ferwacy President, they continued to allow him to work at clubs.

Later, concerned staff alerted the Police. Mbazumutima was banned from engaging in any cycling coaching.

The federation is now being investigated for more sexual abuses, abuse of power and other leads.

“Ferwacy has written to every cycling body regarding this man [Mbazumutima] and can never be allowed in any sport,” a source told Taarifa.

Another source familiar with this incidence told Taarifa that Straton would have these female cyclists in the same house and ‘poach’ on each of them.

One of the girls was grossly impregnated. Sadly, the baby died after birth.

It is said this incidence brought to the attention of Ferwacy management and Police, but there were no charges against the errant coach because simply the girl did not file any complaint herself with the Police. The argument was that she is an adult and not a minor.

Fraudulent Actions

By 2013, Bayingana had been at the helm of the cycling federation for three years when something inexplicable happened.

Bayingana procured 40 sports bicycles from Scandola in Italy without the knowledge, negotiation and approval of the federation management members.

One of the former senior Federation officials, Bizimana Festus, told Taarifa that, “Federation members didn’t know about the container coming in with bikes. Didn’t know about “their bikes” coming with a private boat. Didn’t know about payments (price of the bikes, transport cost, who pays what at what proportion etc).”

While in Italy, the 40 bicycles were packed in a container and shipped to Dar-es-salaam port in neighbouring Tanzania.

Instead of directly delivering them to Kigali, Bayingana allegedly travelled to Dar es Salaam to clear the cargo container himself.

He reportedly argued that it was cheaper for him to ship the container from Dar-es-salaam to Kigali after its arrival from Italy.

It was not clear why Bayingana did not want the container to leave Italy and reach Dar-es-salaam then proceed to Kigali as a single delivery process.

The Ferwacy President, it is alleged, attempted to clear this container from Dar-es-salaam port, but didn’t have the money required. At this time, he requested the federation funders to chip in with cash help.

“He asked us for the money to get it to Kigali. We said “NO”, because we knew he had personal items in the container and we could have lost our US nonprofit status using donor funds to clear a container with his personal items,” one of the funders told Taarifa during this investigation.

However, Bayingana meticulously worked his way around and cleared the container with the federation’s funds.

Taarifa learnt that in 2012, donors primarily from US, had mobilized U$20,000 cash to help train cyclist Adrien Niyonshuti.

Our source says that Douglas Ryder spent another $30,000 in races, travel and other expenses for Adrien Niyonshuti.

“When we returned to Rwanda, after the Olympics, we submitted our reimbursement. We even took out all our expenses and submitted a reimbursement of $10,000 to Rwanda National Olympic Committee, the Sports Ministry and the Federation (RNOC/MINISPOC/ Ferwacy).”

“We never received the reimbursement. We followed up numerous times,” Kimberly Coats, one of the handlers said, adding that they have never been refunded the $10,000.

Kimberly explains that they found out that Rwanda National Olympic Committee had actually reimbursed MINISPOC and Ferwacy this money.

“Bayingana and Ferwacy kept telling us they never received the money. That was a lie as that money had been spent by Aimable to get his personal items in the container in Dar-es-salaam. Part of that money was to go to Adrien for his training. It was so bad,” a bitter Kimberly told Taarifa.

“I know nothing about $10,000 you talk about. We owe nothing Kimberly,” Bayingana assured Taarifa.

In 2012 a container of bikes from Scandola in Italy with his jet ski in it. There were 40 bikes but the private boat took more space

Following Tour du Rwanda Money

In June, Federation President Bayingana announced that the 2020 edition of Tour of Rwanda will be held from February 16-23rd.

This is a massive event that projects Rwanda to the international audience and government has particular interest in it.

Federation sources told Taarifa that in particular, government provides almost Rwf200million to facilitate the event.

Other funders including Skol Breweries and Cogebanque collectively provide almost Rwf600 million in sponsorship.

An inside source revealed that the Federation President single handedly hires two French Consultants to handle Tour du Rwanda and are paid an exorbitant Rwf100million at the end of the event.

However, the federation members do not know how these French guys are hired.

“Nobody knows how their contracts are negotiated. Such a contract requires a federation meeting to vet these consultants and negotiate their contract, but nothing of a kind has ever been done. It is between the Federation President and these men,” a source told Taarifa on condition of anonymity.

Our source also revealed that the French consultants are paid cash in Euro currency not local currency and this money is not taxed by Rwanda Revenue Authority since 2008 up to 2018.

There has never been a transfer of cash from Ferwacy to these consultants in Euros.

Last year, the federation contacted Rwanda Revenue Authority asking how they could start paying taxes.

Looking at their contracts of the previous Tour du Rwanda, for example, the consultants identified as Olivier Grand Jean and Jean-Claude Herault were paid 44,000 Euros.

One of these consultants acts as the Tour du Rwanda Manager and his contract provides that he gets 35,000 or 25000 Euros.

They also get 10% of the money collected from Skol and other sponsors.

“Cogebanque does not require these French guys to give money to Tour du Rwanda.  Skol without any mediator provides almost Rwf150million cash to support the Tour du Rwanda. So why would it be viewed as if these French guys mobilized Cogebanque to support tour du Rwanda,” a source explained.

But more interestingly, some federation members confronted one of these French consultants specifically Olivier GrandJean and asked him what exactly he does to deserve Rwf100million.

He is said to have communicated through email denying having received such amount of money.

This means that the money reflected in the contracts (44,000 Euros and 35,000 Euros) is not actually what these consultants get. Someone else is getting a big fraction of this lump sum.

According to this contract written in French, of which Taarifa has seen copies, it is indicated that parties include Ferwacy which is the organizer of the Tour du Rwanda.

Olivier Grand Jean is indicated as the consultant, expert and general coordinator of this event while Jean-Claude Herault would deliver as an expert in marketing and organization that collaborates with Ferwacy.

Another clause dictates that the contractor has to ensure the overall benefit of this expertise, advice and general coordination of the organization and will receive from Ferwacy an annual indemnity of 35,000 Euros.

(Pour assurer l’ensemble de cette prestation d’expertise, de conseil et de coordination generale de l’organisation, Oliveir GrandJean percevra de la Ferwacy une indemnite annuelle d’une montant de 35,000 Euros)

The New Times Deletes FERWACY Article

This year, The New Times editorial team was preparing stories that would draw its readers into the Liberation mood ahead of the July 4 anniversary.

The publication through its journalist Richard Bishumba contacted Kimberly Coats, who is the founder member of Team Rwanda cycling to write an article that would present Rwanda’s healing through the cycling lenses.

Kimberly punched paragraphs together to assemble an article titled ‘Cycling: Team Rwanda’s pioneering legacy’ and was published on May 18.

Later, The New Times wanted more from Kimberly.

On June 22, Kimberly wrote another article titled ‘Ferwacy Needs Serious Evaluation and in-depth Scrutiny’.

This article was mysteriously pulled down from the publication’s website.

For the few minutes the story had been on the website, Ferwacy had commended author Kimberly for a very excellent article.

The Federation President, Bayingana, is said to have told some of his colleagues at the Federation, “Nibyo” in agreement with the issues addressed in the article.

“One of the reasons I wrote that article was that Ferwacy/ARCC was trying to cut employees and/or cut these employees’ salaries of the original riders who now work in the sport,” Kimberly told Taarifa on Sunday during one of the sessions of more than a month-long investigation.

However, the New Times later pulled down the article from the website, but did not explain to its readers the reasons behind this unusual conduct from a reputable institution.

“…I wrote the article, sent it to Richard and never thought he’d publish it. Well, he did and all hell broke loose! Aimable got so angry at me for raising questions that he called NT [The New Times] and got it pulled down immediately. Then a few weeks later he had TNT write that self-aggrandizing article about him, Ferwacy and cycling with no mention of Adrien,” Kimberly said during the investigation.

“We, as TNT, decide to pull it down until we can independently prove all the info ourselves. I’m sorry you must have got a ton of crap. I assume you’ll continue verifying it,” the reporter lambasted the benevolent founder and supporter of the much celebrated sport in Rwanda.

“What you are doing is not proper and one day your wrong doings and malpractices will be out in the media. That one who will bring the issues in the media will be a responsibility and I will make sure that he bears the consequences,” a source said of how the federation President reacted during a meeting at a pub in Kacyiru sometime in 2018.

Taarifa continues to dig into the matter. Further details shall be reported in another article soon.

Open Letter To FERWACY President Aimable Bayingana

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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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