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By Our reporter
According to Parliament’s ad hoc committee, which was set up to investigate the Rukarara hydro electric dam issue, current Finance Minister John Rwangombwa signed off millions of dollars thus leading to government loss without full functioning of the dam.
The Rukarara dam project which was expected to generate 9.5MW, ended up by giving 9.1MW to the national power grid. Which parliament say is the big deal that needs justice sector to settle. As the whole fight is all is all about those few power units.
When the ad hoc Parliamentarian committee was reporting to the parliament, Rukarara became the big issue to the extent that the ad hoc committee proposed that Finance Minister John Rwangombwa should be summoned to explain about the controversial contracts, the loss money which the auditor general says was not accounted for.
Unverified reports from our sources say it’s a strategy to remove Rwangombwa to replace him with the current Permanent Secretary Kampeta Sayinzoga
Ad hoc committee decided to summon Rwangombwa to be grilled by parliamentarians but the House refused seeking for prosecution to immediately take over.
Rwangombwa a brilliant technocrat seems to now be entangled in the usually intrigues that are characteristic of Rwandan politics.
A member of parliament who preferred anonymity told GLV that it is possible to resolve the Rukarara saga without resorting to courts of law since government has yet to take over the dam
Other senior officials cited in this saga include Albert Butare, former state minister in charge of energy and his successor, recently relieved of her duties Coletha Ruhamya, Yves Muyange, the Director General of EWSA, Sam Nkusi, a former state minister of energy and three former Permanent Secretaries in the works ministry namely: Vincent Gatwabuyenge, Senator Marie Claire Mukasine and Emmanuel Nsanzumuganwa.
Others found culpable are the permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Kampeta Sayinzoga Pichette, Uwamahoro Yussuf, who is the Deputy Director General at EWSA and a former director of Energy at MININFRA and Kirenga Emmanuel, an employee at EWSA in charge of managing Rukarara hydropower plant.
The report holds minister Rwangombwa responsible for releasing, while still serving as the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, a total of over US$7.5 million and 20 million Francs without proof that work had been done properly and sometimes without invoices requesting for payment or approval of payment from relevant authorities.
This includes among others sanctioning the payment of US$5, 953, 872 to Eco Global Power, the firm that carried out construction works at the hydropower project, without an ‘interim payment certificate’ issued by the supervising firm, Beijing Forever.
The report also blames the rwangombwa for paying over US$1.4 million to Beijing Forever without invoices requesting for payment or “approval for payment” from other mandated authorities. The minister is also held responsible for the use of US$100.000 in travels and other expenses but only accounting for US$ 4500.
Among other things, parliament now recommends the prosecution of the officials named in the saga.
Parliamentarians were also believe that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning paid out Rwf20 million to RUMA, a private consulting company, to monitor the use of funds in the Rukarara project and in the process by-passing the Auditor General’s Office, which, by law, is the principal government agency mandated to monitor the use of public funds.
“How can you use and pay such an amount of money to a private company (RUMA) when there is a public institution (Auditor General’s Office) that is charged with doing the same work? That is ridiculous. We really wonder how this came about,” Hon Evode Karima, the chairman of the commission that investigated the matter, said.
Hon Karima added that the report compiled by RUMA was substandard and that it was not helpful to his committee. “It instead confused us,” he stressed.
With regard to the use of US100, 000 as allowances for a one week working visit to Sri Lanka for due diligence to establish whether Eco Global Power merited the construction job of the hydropower project, Karima told the full house of parliament:
“It is not understandable how three people can use US$100,000 within a week. This is not fair. In fact, we have calculated and established that those three people could not have used more than US$11, 000. So, what about the remaining US$90, 000?” he wondered, before adding that there were obvious signs of collaboration between the contractors and the contracting party, the Ministry of Finance.
Former minister Albert Butare is accused of accepting a substandard and amateurish study which was relied upon to approve the construction of Rukarara hydropower. To the MPs, this study laid the ground for loss of public funds and shallow work at Rukarara hydropower plant. He is also held responsible for paying for an environmental impact study, carried out by “ESF Consultant” and worth US$37,700 but not using the same assessment report at all.
Coletha Ruhamya is accused of approving payment worth US$1,207,600 for supervision work at Rukarara by RSW International Inc without the authority of RPPA.
Meanwhile, during the debate at the floor of parliament, some MPs were praying that the minister of Finance be given chance to give an explanation while others were baying for his blood, saying he should face justice.
Joseph Bideri, the former Managing Director of The New Times, was arrested and letter sacked due to Rukarara saga where the publication was running stories which appeared to back Rwangombwa side.
Media High Council former executive secretary Patrice Mulama was unintended casualty when given 24 hours to leave the office due to the disputed caution to the police citing Bideri’s case among the harassed journalists.
Great Lakes Voice sources reveal that Bideri’s arrest was a result of the first phase to bring Rwangombwa down to be replaced by someone backed by a faction in the RPF system.
Rwangombwa reportedly, has had long beef with another strong minister whom our sources say has delegated powers to nominate who to be what in Kagame’s cabinet.
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