Kangura No. 19

More Problems in Cyangugu’s Communes

Noel Hitimana

Dear readers:

As you already know, silence is longer an option for we must denounce those officials who dare embezzle public funds. In Cyangugu, there are individuals who mismanage public funds (which belong to all of us) and others who sabotage public projects simply because they are unable to steal a little money for their personal use.

In Rwanda, several projects are abandoned despite the fact that they are meant for the public good and are funded with monies borrowed from foreign countries. However, these individuals, be they high-ranking ministry officials or heads of government departments [illegible], they accuse the other for their acts. The main problem is that they cannot seem to agree on how to embezzle funds. That is why projects are either run into the ground, crippled or brought to a halt. In the inquiries conducted by Kangura, we did not observe this to be a widespread trend, but as the proverb goes: “One bad apple spoils the barrel.” That is why recently, many people in Cyangugu are accusing their Bourgmesters, and regrettably, we note that, in most cases, their accusations are unfounded. We can cite the example of Kirambo commune, where the Bourgmester is wreaking havoc.

Immediately after Mathias MAYIRA became Bourgmester, he divided the commune into two parts:

  • One part comprising three secteurs (Tyazo, Ruheru and Gitongo), and
  • Another comprising seven secteurs (Kinjongo, Cyato, Rwumba, Yove, Gahisi, Rangiro and Mpabe).

After the division, he began harassing the civil, servants and firing them, particularly the ones who were natives of the secteurs in the other part of the commune (himself being a native of a secteur in the first part), simply because he could not make them embezzle the commune’s property as they were not natives of his secteur. Some of them were persecuted. He thus sacked the commune accountant, the brigadier, the veterinarian and many others. He hired people who had graduated from the CERAR and the CERAI, the result being a total breakdown of services at the commune office.

How did he embezzle the commune funds?

  • The complaints filed against Bourgmester Mathias MAYIRA include poor workmanship in the construction of the commune office. Indeed, the roofing sheets, the paint, the cement and many, other materials intended for the project were taken to his home, which he claimed was the ministry office.
  • The Head of State donated five million in aid in addition to the three million earmarked for the building of Kirambo market. However, more than five years have gone by and the market site has yet to be cleared. The people are asking where the money went.

A water project was supposed to be developed by the Dutch. When Mathias MAYIRA found out that it was meant for the inhabitants of the seven secteurs mentioned above, he tried to sabotage it. Indeed, after installing only two fountainheads in Yove secteur, he lied, saying that he had had fifty of them installed. For us, such a Bourgmester is known as “Balihima” (meaning, someone who sabotages his own interests).

The Ministry of Health laid the foundation stone for the Yove health centre. When the Bourgmester found out that it was to be built in one of the seven secteurs, he did nothing. Three years have now gone by.

  • Funds are allocated to the commune by organizations or donors to assist indigent students. However, the Bourgmester calls them loans. When about twenty students from the second part of the commune request the money, only three of them receive some, but one gets the impression that that is done to get rid of them, because the amount the received is not sufficient to cover their school fees. The others are referred to the inspector. The inspector tells them that if he ever dared disburse funds to them, the Bourgmester would fire him, perhaps even imprison him.
  • The people are afraid he might do away with a project sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Animal Husbandry, which was inaugurated last year. This project could help the local residents. According to these people, the Bourgmester embezzled the funds earmarked for the projects that would benefit the people and used the funds to build his personal house, purchase a vehicle, start a petrol station, etc.

Fellow Rwandans, while we all prepare for the multiparty system, keep in mind that the commune is the basic administrative unit. That is why Bourgmesters should clean up their act so as not to appear blame-free whereas they knowingly sabotage the interests of the M.R.N.D., which enabled them to obtain the positions they occupy. Otherwise, we might be led to think that they have always been willing to work with other parties and that, therefore, they should not be made to answer for acts that occurred during the M.R.N.D. era. They are mistaken because we are of the opinion that they will have a lot of explaining to do once the multiparty system is introduced.