The Chronicles

Serving Your Right to Know the Truth

Month: September 2014

  • Mystery surrounds syringe, gloves found inside woman’s vagina

    The Rwanda Medical Council and the Police are investigating a case involving a woman who claimed she was stitched with three gloves, a syringe and cotton in her uterus

    after under going cesarean operation as she was giving birth.

    On the morning of April 1, 2008, Zawadi Murekatete, 20, a Congolese refugee at Gihembe Refugee Camp, went into labour.
    She was rushed to the camp’s health centre but was immediately transferred to Byumba Hospital since she had to undergo cesarean which the camp health centre could not perform.

    In an interview with The Chronicles, Murekatete said that she underwent operation and gave birth to a healthy baby but doctors instructed her not to move until when she was told to do so. Narrating her ordeal, she said; “When I left the theatre, my stomach started swelling immediately; I was feeling a lot of pain. The following day I went to the toilet, the stitches went loose and my stomach slit open; blood, puss and some liquid started flowing out of me.”

    She was rushed to the theatre where she was re-stitched but her stomach kept swelling and she had to undergo another operation on April 5.
    “I was discharged but I kept seeing puss in my urine. I consulted the doctors at the camp’s health centre who referred me back to Byumba Hospital,” she laments.

    According to Murekatete, a certain doctor whose name is yet to be identified, refused to admit her and claimed that she was in good health.
    “At one point, the same doctor referred me to a psychiatrist saying that I am suffering from trauma. I decided to go back to the camp where I remained under the care of medics of the camp’s health centre,” she added.

    Murekatete lived with pain for three years until January 5, 2012, when a piece of cotton dropped out of her as she was urinating.
    Due to the bad health situation she was in, camp doctors decided to transfer her to Kigali Teaching Hospital (CHUK) without authorization from Byumba Hospital, the district hospital. According to Dr Martin Nyundo, the Medical Director at CHUK, the woman was admitted without Byumba authorisation because she was having a verification to have treatment under the UNHCR health insurance from the camp. Nyundo told The Chronicles, “In normal government hospital procedures we treat those patients from the districts that have been transferred to us by the particular district hospitals. But for her case she was just like any other private patients we receive or those on other private insurances with whom we partner and UNHCR is part”

    Murekatete claims that the three gloves, a syringe and cotton were intentionally left in her uterus by doctors from Byumba hospital.
    However according to Dr Nyundo, it is medically impossible for an individual to be inhabited by external agents within the uterus for such a long period of time. He says, “As far as human anatomy is concerned, it is impossible to habit these materials for that long and besides even if they had been left within the uterus it is unconceivable how they might have travelled to the vagina from where they were disposed off. The canal from the vagina to the uterus (cervix) is such a small slit through which only micro materials can maneuver not such complex material as gloves and the rest”
    However, Byumba Hospital denied being responsible of the shocking professional irresponsibility or malice.
    “There is no way a doctor would do that, also, it is important to note that a person would not live for three years with such items in her uterus,” said Dr Fred Muhairwe the head of Byumba Hospital.

    Speaking to The Chronicles, the Director-General of CHUK, Dr. Theobald Hategekimana confirmed that indeed the items were extracted from the woman’s insides. “The pieces were found in her vagina not the uterus, also Murekatete had a severe infection in her womb which we are also treating,” says Hategekimana.

    The Director-General in charge of Communication at the Rwanda Biomedical Center, Mr. Arthur Asiimwe told The Chronicles that the Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho established a committee to investigate the matter. The committee was headed by Dr. Eugene Ngonga together with other medical officials from within Rwanda and other countries to look into the issue.

    In a telephone interview with The Chronicles, Mr. Asiimwe says that so far, the technical investigation into the matter have been included and there is no link between the doctors involved in Murekatete’ operations and the external agents found in Murekatete. He notes, “The medical investigation report has been concluded and it is clear that there is no link between the materials and the operations that Murekatete underwent”. He adds, “It is most likely the materials were inserted from the outside into the woman’s vagina not during the operation”. Dr Ngoga also claims that “There is no connection from where these items were found and the uterus; also the types of gloves that were found in her vagina are not used in the theatre”. He adds that the gloves found in Murekatete were examining gloves while those used in the theatre are surgical gloves.

    Dr. Ngoga also pointed out that during cesarean; a surgeon does not need a syringe – which clears the surgeon from being responsible.
    However according to a doctor at CHUK who closely followed the case, Murekatete said she was undergoing her normal menstrual periods which according to him is an impossibility if the materials had been in the vagina for such a long period of time”. The doctor who preferred anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter adds, “She could have seen these materials during her periods”

    Asked if Murekatete will be able to give birth again, Dr Ngoga says that during the treatment at CHUK, it was discovered that one of her fallopian tubes was damaged. Fallopian tubes are the two long, thin tubes that connect to a woman’s uterus (one on each side). In a woman’s body the tube allows passage of the egg from the ovary to the uterus.

    “She still can give birth with one remaining fallopian tube,” says Ngoga. Also interested in the matter however, the police spokesperson Theos Badege told The Chronicles that investigations are still ongoing. He said, “The investigations are still ongoing and nothing important can be published at present”. Badege promises that the police will soon be publishing the findings of who is responsible, when and how the materials found their way into Murekatete’s vagina.

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  • Trevidic Report and the politics of commissions of inquiry since the genocide

    Two weeks ago, a team of French experts led by Judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux released their report into the downing of the plane carrying President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994 and his consequent death.

    The incident is widely believed to have triggered the genocide. Seventeen years later and despite the latest report, the question of who downed the plane and who is responsible for Habyarimana’s death is settled to some while disputed by others─especially critics of the RPF led government. The Chronicles’ Editorial Consultant, Dr Christopher Kayumba analyses the politics of commissions of inquiry since the genocide and argues that of all reports produced so far─over ten of them from ten commissions of inquiry concluded since the end of the genocide, the most consequential, politically and diplomatically for Rwanda and France, is the Bruguière and the Mucyo Commission reports.

    Since the end of the genocide in 1994, no fewer than ten commissions of inquiry have been set up and reports produced on this horrendous human failure once called “the crime of crimes” by the man who coined the word Genocide─Raphael Lamkin more than half a century ago.
    Variously named, there is the UN report, the OUA report (now AU) of 2007, the UN Special Rapporteur Rene Degni-Segui report of 1996, the French parliamentary commission in 1998, the French Military and Foreign Ministry Commission report, the Belgian report, the Canadian report, the Bruguière report, the Spanish judge Fernando Andreu’s report and related indictments of 40 Rwandan senior officials, the Mucyo report, the Mutsinzi report, and now the Trévidic report, among others.

    The UN report concluded by accepting the world body’s failure and put in place some mechanisms to plaster them─such as early warning mechanisms, and the responsibility to protect doctrine. The OUA/AU report also indicted the UN, and the OAU for failure as well as specific countries such as France and the United States. Substantively, beyond adding documentary evidence, nothing much came from it.

    A look at other reports, such as the French parliamentary commission report, served to exonerate the French military and political class of any responsibility in the genocide; although it accepted “errors” of judgment were committed. The Mucyo commission report named 33 French senior military officers and political leaders of direct responsibility; the Mutsinzi commission concluded that the plane carrying Habyarimana was brought down by a missile from Kanombe military barracks and named extremist Hutu elements in FAR and government as responsible.

    Judge Fernando Andreu of Spain invoked the idea of universal jurisdiction and indicted 40 Rwanda officials. While this report and related arrest warrants raised the political temperature and in some ways curtailed travels of some named officials, due to minimal influence of Spain in world affairs, questionable methodology used, limited credibility of the basis on which indictments were based and assumed limited intimate knowledge of Rwanda by Spain, these indictments did not have profound consequences as the one issued by Judge Bruguière. We shall see why.

    The Trévidic report and its possible consequences
    Then, to add further empirical evidence, judicial and political drama, on January 10, French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux released their report relating to the shooting down of former Rwanda President Juvẻnal Habyarimana on April 6. Consensus exists that this incident triggered the genocide.

    After the release, the Government of Rwanda issued a statement where Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo stated that “Today’s findings constitute vindication for Rwanda’s long-held position on the circumstances surrounding events of April 1994″. She added, “With this scientific truth, Judges Trévidic and Poux have slammed shut the door on the seventeen-year campaign to deny the genocide or blame its victims”.
    At a press conference the same week following the release of the report, Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told reporters that “This (the Trévidic report) is a case file that is finished as far as we can see”. He added, “To say that the plane was shot from Kanombe is not new. There is a UN report, the Mutsinzi Report, the Carlson Report, the report of eminent persons, the British Military Academy and investigations by the ICTR, which all pointed at Kanombe”. To the government, the latest report therefore, unlike the Jean-Louis Bruguière one in 2006, exonerates the RPF/A of any responsibility in the shooting down of the plane. Although the report does not categorically state so, but says the missile that brought down Falcon 50 carrying Habyarimana and President Cyprian Ntaryamira─who had sought a lift came from Camp Kanombe. The conclusion, according to the government is that those who controlled the barracks-FAR and French troops are responsible.

    In talk-show on Rwanda Television and Radio Rwanda last Saturday, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, who was a member of the Mucyo Commission and later the Mutsinzi Commission, echoes the government’s position that the Trévidic report vindicates findings of the Mutsinzi commission. The same position was taken by Professor José Kagabo; also a member of the Mucyo Commision. However, government critics, including Habyarimana’s son, Jean Luc Habyarimana and former RPF Secretary General turned dissident Theogene Rudasingwa, among others vehemently reject the idea that the report exonerates the RPF or President Kagame. Therefore, while it’s possible that the issue of who shot down and killed Habyarimana might not be politically dead, in judicial terms, it is likely that the indictments ordered against nine senior RDF by former judge Bruguière might be rescinded by judge Trévidic. If this eventually officially takes place, it will be a great political victory for the RPF, president Kagame and his government.

    The Bruguière report and its consequences
    Judge Marc Trévidic is the man who replaced Judge Bruguière and charged with continuing and looking into the validity of Bruguière findings.
    On November 17, 2006, Judge Bruguière had released a report that categorically accused former RPA/F senior officers, including its then leader and now President Paul Kagame of committing the crime. At the time, Bruguière called on the ICTR to try Kagame. He also sought permission from the French prosecution authority to issue indictments to nine senior RDF officers. Three days later, on November 20, the Paris Prosecution authority agreed and issued the arrest warrants.

    In the arrest warrants, Bruguière claims that “The destruction of the presidential aircraft triggered an insurrection and a climate of extreme confusion giving rise to numerous rumours concerning the origin of the attack” which, “…immediately triggered a violent reaction by Hutu extremists which directly led to the genocide of the Tutsis minority”. By claiming that the downing of the plane “triggered an insurrection” and not genocide and then goes on to say this “directly led to the genocide…” critics of Bruguière and his methods claim this is a denial of genocide. That he did not set foot where the crime was committed and all his witnesses are either dissidents or individuals with a bone to pick with the Kagame government did not help matters.
    Those who perished in the plane, besides former Presidents Juvẻnal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi, include Dẻogratias Nsanzimana who was chief of staff of the FAR, Col Ellie Sagatwa, who was a director in the president’s office charged with military affairs, Maj. Thaddẻe Bagaragaza, Juvẻnal Renzaho, who was foreign affairs’ advisor to the president, Emmanuel Akingeneye, personal doctor to President Habyarimana, Bernard Ciza, the Minister For Planning of Burundi and Cyriaque Simbizi, the Minister For Communications of Burundi. Also perishing in the plane was the French crew, including the pilot Jacky Heraud, co-pilots Jean-Pierre Minaberry and flight engineer, Jean-Marc Perrine.

    Widows and relatives of the crew together with the Habyariman family brought the case before the French judicial authority seeking justice. After eight years of investigations, critics say playing politics with the investigations, judge Bruguière concluded that “Testimony provided by witnesses, particularly Tutsi members of the F.P.R., former members of this political movement and former soldiers of the A.P.R., including members of the personal guards of Paul Kagame, investigations undertaken and material evidence gathered particularly with respect to the missiles establish that Paul Kagame, with members of his staff, conceived, meticulously planned, recruited soldiers charged with carrying it out and supervised the execution of this operation following the Arusha Agreement of August 1993”.

    With this conclusion, he proceeded to indict nine very senior former RPA and now RDF officers. They include Gen James Kabarebe (current minister of Defence), Lt. Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa (now in exile in South Africa), Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga (current CDF), Gen. Jack Nziza, Sam Kaka, Rose Kabuye, Jacob Tumwine, Franck Nziza and Eric Hakizimana. As is clear, targeting the military hierarchy in this way was interpreted back in Kigali as some a kind of mini coup d’état for Rwanda. No wonder then that upon the release of the Trẻvidic report that contradicted the basis of the indictments, the BBC reported that, “Kagame ‘cleared of Habyarimana crash”.

    President Kagame, while addressing members of the Leadership Fellowship last week also acknowledged that he was happy with the new findings. He however added a caveat by saying that “While I am happy with the findings and everybody in this country seems to be very excited, I am not excited,” the President said. “The reason is simple – have we been waiting to be cleared by a French judge? Were we, all along, waiting to be absolved (of any wrongdoing) by a foreign judge?”

    The effect of the Bruguière report
    The Bruguière report and consequent indictment of nine former RPA and now very senior RDF military officers caused major ripples within the political and diplomatic hierarchies not only in Rwanda and France, but across the European continent and beyond. The effect of issuing arrest warrants was immediate and profoundly consequential. Only four days after issuing arrest warrants on November 20, 2006, the Kigali government gave the French envoy in Kigali 24 hours to leave the country and closed down the embassy; including the French Cultural Centre in the heart of the City.

    At the time, opinion was divided on whether or not the decision to severe all diplomatic relations was wise. Some quarters feared this would bolster France’s resolve to isolate Kigali and increase its support for dissidents. Others, including the President believed the issuance of arrest warrants against almost the entire top leadership of the RDF was aimed at intimidating, silencing and crippling the capacity of RPF to govern and was some kind of coup d’état and could not be tolerated. So, he had to act; and act boldly.

    And the arrest warrants were not only curtailing senior military officials from doing their work by not traveling, but European countries seemed keen to enforce them. Their first casualty was retired Lt. Col Rose Kabuye who was arrested at Frankfurt Airport on 9 November 2008 on her way to prepare President Kagame’s visit to Germany. In a show of defiance, when asked whether she could be tried in Germany or be extradited to France, she chose the latter. Today, charges against Rose have been dropped─another political and diplomatic victory for the Kigali establishment.

    Further, within a space of less than a year following the release of the Bruguière report, Rwanda had commissioned another commission of inquiry into the shooting down of president Habyarimana’s plane. This is what came to be known as the “Mutsinzi Commission” headed by former Supreme Court President Jean Mutsinzi. It was set up on 16 April 2007 and charged with investigating Habyarimana’s plane crush and who was responsible.
    Less than a year later, on August 5, 2008, another independent commission released its report into the role of France in the 1994 genocide. This commission was chaired by former Minister of Justice and now head of the Genocide Commission, Jean Mucyo. The Mucyo Commission, which held public hearings and publicised the French’s alleged role in the 1994 genocide was also profoundly unsettling to the French political and military establishment.

    First, during public hearings, eye witnesses accused the French military of varied crimes including rape, training militias and manning roadblocks where interahamwe militias targeted Tutsis for slaughter. Remarkably, at the conclusion, the Mucyo commission named 33 senior French and military officials as well as political leaders, including current French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé; former President Mitterrand and his top aid Dominique de Villepin, his General Secretary at the time Mr. Hubert Védrine; his Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, among others. This act was heavily embarrassing and unsettling to the French government. On top of this, insiders tell me that the French were aware that the Rwandan government was planning, if they didn’t counter Bruguière indictments, to issue their own indictments against named French military officials and political leaders, including its current Foreign Minister.

    It seems the thought of a small land-locked country, formally part of its “sphere of influence” indicting its officials, and the likely embarrassment it would cause, more than expelling its envoy was too much for the French to stomach. This seems to have forced the French political establishment, particularly President Sarkozy and his close allies to soften and agree to re-establish diplomatic relations and political cooperation. Thus, it is possible to say that although very much hated in Kigali, Bruguière did far more good to Rwanda than has been examined. What has so far been the focus is his questionable methodology and zeal to incriminate former RPA senior officers and the RPF.

    The less investigated side of the consequence of the Bruguière report and indictments is that it served to demystify French power and taking away the fear factor from the Rwandan establishment. That Rwanda belled the cat is not something many, including the French expected. For the French, are said to have been, since the end of the genocide undermining the Rwanda government variously with limited response from Kigali. By openly choosing to fight the French government, the Rwandan government did what no other government had ever done in Africa. It set a precedent.

    While most humans are gripped by the fear of failure, God and death and most European governments these days fear terrorism and unemployment than anything else, most African governments by far fear the developed world or their former colonial masters more than anything else. This makes the humiliation France faced of giving its envoy 24 hours and publicly naming her officials as genocide perpetrators and rapists unprecedented. Rwanda was setting a ‘bad’ example to the French satellite states on the continent to act likewise. The key problem for France then was how to stop Rwanda from doing so or succeeding. Was France going to go native and continue using force or hard power or was it going to adopt a less hardline stand and cooperate with Kigali?

    Both options would be costly, and perhaps embarrassing at the same time. Now the French authority, headed by President Sarkozy decided to take a less hardline but politically and diplomatically humbling stand. On balance then, if there are things Rwanda has done that have earned her and her citizens genuine respect from foreigners, it is the humbling of France by expulsing her ambassador, closing down the embassy and commissioning an investigation that publicly named French political leaders and military officers’ individual involvement and responsibility in the genocide.

    This act, and consequent reopening of diplomatic relations based on mutual respect, will, when history is written in future among the best. This watershed moment ranks along two other Kagame actions that seem to have brought immeasurable respect to Rwanda. The first is the defeat of the Ugandan forces in Kisangani in three battles and the fight against corruption. The first qualified the Rwandan army as supreme and helped shed off any lingering questions about the determination of Rwandan leaders to be their own bosses (before then, some Ugandan military officials underrated Rwandan officials). On the other hand, the fight against corruption has earned Rwandese respectability to the extent, for example that some foreign countries do easily accept Rwandan driving permits in case their holders want to change─because they believe they are genuine.

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  • Is Umubano ‘Zero Star’ hotel?

    Thirty hospitality facilities were last week unveiled as ‘must-go’ places after they successfully passed through an intricate grading and classification exercise – which allows them to gain ‘starship’.

    One common and well known hotel was nonetheless missing from the star-studded cast: Novotel Umubano Hotel Kigali located in Kacyiru, an upscale Kigali suburb.

    Government-owned Umubano Hotel has changed management often. The change of ownership has equally been accompanied by that of names. But even with such changes, it seems Umubano Hotel was not ready to join the competitive race to gain regional and global recognition of either a five star or less.

    According to international standards, five star means that the facility’s reception is open 24 hours with multilingual staff, a doorman, valet parking, a concierge or page boy, a spacious reception hall with several seats and beverage services. It also means a guest would receive a personalised greeting – probably with fresh flowers or a present in the room. The room should have a minibar, and food and beverage offer via room service during 24 hours.

    Personal care products in flacons, wireless Internet, a PC in the room, ironing service (return within one hour), shoe polish service – are some of the other requirements a 5 star hotel must have. Having anything less than such amenities mean a hotel gets a less rating.

    And the winners are…

    Serena Hotel Kigali and Nyungwe Forest Lodge in Nyamaseke District (Western Province) were unveiled as the only Five-Star hotels in Rwanda. Serena is owned and operated by the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), while Nyungwe Forest Lodge belongs to the troubled United Arab Emirates holdings firm, Dubai World.

    The classification names little-known Relay’s Gorilla Hotel in Musanze District (Northern Province) as a One Star hotel in the country, in an exercise where only 31 hospitality facilities were graded. 130 hotels had initially been identified in the country for the review process, that cost the government some Rwf120 million.

    Mr. John Gara, the RDB’s chief executive officer said the star grading – the first ever in Rwanda, was based on East African standard certifications, and collectively developed by all East African Community (EAC) partner states. With this grading, he said, Rwanda becomes the second country in the EAC region to classify the accommodation establishments using the EAC criterion after Tanzania.

    Rica Rwigamba, the head of Tourism and Conservation at RDB, said that the star classification commonly used to rate hotels, largely depends on various factors including food services, entertainment, room variations – such as size and additional amenities, spas and fitness centres, and ease of access. Quality of service and location were also considered in establishing these standards, she said.

    What happened to Umubano hotel?

    Speaking on the sidelines of the elaborate Hotel Star Awarding Ceremony on Thursday at Serena Hotel Kigali, some hoteliers who preferred anonymity considered some of the requirements as disadvantageous to smaller hotels. They said the quality of accommodation could fall into one class because of the lack of an item such as an elevator.

    The hotel rating systems was also criticised by some others who argued that the criterion are overly complex for Rwandans and difficult for lay-persons to understand.

    But for Umubano Hotel, the process did sound worth the effort. Before 2009, Umubano, located about a two-minute drive away from the Office of the President, was referred to as Novotel Hotel Umubano, owned by – Accor Group, a chain of global hotels such as Sofitel, Pullman, MGallery, Mercure and Ibis. Government still holds a minority stake in Umubano.

    The Libyan African Investment Portfolio (LAP) acquired a 60 percent stake in SOPROTEL, the holding company of the hotel. The Rwandan government retained a 40 percent stake. After the Libyans took over management, the hotel was renamed under the brand ‘Laico’.

    In February last year, trouble erupted in Libya resulting into international sanctions including a freeze on billions worth of cash and assets belonging to the regime of ousted Libyan strongman Col Mouammar Kadhafi (RIP). In Kigali, government was also obliged to join the move.

    In late April last year, the Finance Minister John Rwangombwa said that government had found it prudent to take full custody of Libyan-owned shares in the then Laico Hotel. The decision was followed by the removal of all Libyan influence in the management of the hotel and halting of any transfer of resources to the Libyan government or its beneficiaries.

    ‘We want 5-star’!!

    LAP also owned majority shares in defunct telecoms firm Rwandatel, whose licence was revoked last year for failure to meet obligations.

    Asked why Umubano was not classified and yet it is in the process of attracting a strategic investor to take over its management, Clare Akamanzi, RDB’s Chief Operating Officer said on her twitter account that the hotel was not ready. “We hope to include them in the next round when they are ready,” Akamanzi said.

    Rosemary Mbabazi, the hotel’s caretaker confirmed to The Chronicles that indeed the hotel had been approached in 2009 for the assessment “…we didn’t think it was time for us to participate before major renovations are done on the facility,” she said.

    “We want to be a five-star before an investor takes over. The Libyans promised to renovate but there were no major changes since 2005,” Mbabazi added.

    Not worth US$200 a night!!??

    An online search of the hotel takes us to http://www.umubanohotel.rw/. It describes itself as 4-Star facility. “Perfectly suited for today’s traveller, Umubano Hotel offers quality service, to ensure guests’ comfort at all times within a warm and welcoming atmosphere,” reads a post on the hotel’s homepage.

    While some professional on-line hotel reviewers have rated Umubano a four star hotel, others say the hotel is way below international standards claiming it lacks even air-conditioning facilities and malfunctioning bathrooms.

    One review of Umubano Hotel on Trip Adviser, a top on-line hotel review website reads: “My room did not have AC and there were quite a few mosquitoes in the bath. Otherwise, it was comfortable enough if not basic. Certainly not worth US$200 a night but I paid half of that by booking online. The pool is ok if you just want to splash around and the restaurant is extremely average and quite dead on the weekends. The staff members there seem desperate to please at least.”

    “The cool thing is that there are several little shops in the lobby for snacks, a bank and an amazing fitness centre complete with a great massage person. Additionally, the hotel Internet is super-fast but not free. This hotel is typical of the decent but extremely overpriced. If you need a decent and no hassle place to stay that is relatively clean and away from the city centre, then you should be fine here,” the review adds.

    Up for sale again?

    Like the now almost non-existent Rwandatel, which had changed hands many a time, and is now awaiting another possible buyer, Umubano Hotel has been no different. Caretaker officials tell The Chronicles that the Hotel is up for sale yet again.

    “We are undergoing a tendering process. We opened bids and the bidding process ends by end of January,” said Mbabazi, the currently management boss.

    “About 10 investors have shown interest….About 60 percent of them are foreign based investors and the rest are either local or local firms teaming with foreign brands,” she added.

    In response on whether LAP, the previous Libyan owners would be allowed to re-submit a bid, Mbabazi said: “We have already engaged the Libyans diplomatically through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There was originally an agreement, which they never complied to. So the question is: how do you trust they will commit themselves this time and be as competitive as other hotels.”

    The chief guest at the hotel star awarding ceremony was the Minister for East African Community Affairs, Mrs. Monique Mukaruliza. Present at the ceremony were government officials and hundreds of guests. The plaque for the Serena Five Star award was received by Mr. Charles Muia, Country Manager for Serena Hotels and General Manager of the Kigali Serena.

    The General Manager of Dubai World Nyungwe Forest Lodge, Deo Kamurase accepted the award on behalf of the hotel.

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  • UK MP in land wrangles with local NGO

    An initiative by the United Kingdom (UK) Member of Parliament (MP), Brooks Newmark to assist vulnerable Rwandan children acquire education has taken a bitter and acrimonious turn. Now the lawmaker, who got involved on humanitarian grounds and the local NGO catering for the children known as Girubuntu Education Center are fighting over ownership of the school.

    In 2007, Hon Newmark visited Rwanda to work on a social action project at Girubuntu Primary School. Together with a team from the UK Conservative Party, Newmark helped to refurbish the school for 80 children, building a new classroom, installing electricity and carrying out various other renovations.

    However, the school was later closed by Gasabo District officials for being substandard. When Newmark learnt about the closure, he proposed to construct more classrooms for the school. As a result, Newmark registered an NGO called A Partner in Education (APIE) with Kitty Llewellyn, another British national in 2009. Together, they began working towards a new vision for Girubuntu primary school – resulting in constructing modern ten classroom blocks, a stocked library and a football pitch.

    On behalf of the parliamentarian, Llewellyn is said to have purchased a piece of land worth Rwf 20million in Niboye sector, Kicukiro district from a man identified as Yusuf Kubwimana . The agreement of the transaction which is in hands of the Kicukiro district identifies MP Brooks Newmark as the buyer of the land and Mr. Eugene Rudasingwa, the founder of Girubuntu as a witness to the transaction.

    However when it came to the requisition of a construction permit, the district told Newmark’s representatives that the land would be registered as a commercial usage asset, if it is registered in an individual’s names. This meant that if the land construction permit was to be issued in the names of Newmark, he would be charged taxes yet the land was for social usage hence, his representatives opted to have the construction permit in the names of APIE.

    In a twist of events, during her visit to Rwanda Joanna Mannand Pippa Richards who was at the helm of APIE at the time, donated the land to the Girubuntu group. According to the document of the donation signed between her and Mr. Rudasingwa Eugene, she requested the district officials to transfer ownership of the land and the property thereof from the names of Brooks Newmark to Girubuntu Education Centre.

    As a result, according to Kicukiro District Mayor, Mr. Paul Jules Ndamage is what led to the sector and the national land offices to process land documents in the name of Girubuntu. Mr. Ndamage told The Chronicles, “It is not clear how Joanna got to donate something that she does not own without the authorisation from the owner of the property who in light [of] available documentation is MP Newmark”.

    Controversy arose when Newmark started claiming that he wanted the transfer of ownership of land and property from Girubuntu to his name.
    When The Chronicles contacted the founder of Girubuntu Education Center who also signed as a witness during the purchase of the land on which Girubuntu Education Centre seats by Brooks Newmark, Eugene Rudasingwa confirmed the development saying that indeed, Newmark and APIE have a problem to solve.

    Mr. Rudasingwa added, “The school started in 1998 to help the least advantaged children. We sought support for the school until in 2007 when MP Brooks Newmark through his organisation APIE decided to support us. After taking on the new property in July 2011, we have tried to survive all the odds and for sure we are not complaining”. Rudasingwa went on “I have nothing against Newmark. I am just protecting the children, I am open to any decision as long as we keep the children in school studying and not deprived of the privilege they have and if there is any complaint that Brooks [has], it should be taken to the concerned parties not to me”.

    Rudasingwa pointed out that at one point, he wanted the misunderstanding to be solved through arbitration but the British lawmaker refused; he later proposed to enter into a partnership arrangement but still the lawmaker refused claiming that all he wanted was to have the land registered in his name.

    Efforts to contact Newmark through emails were fruitless as he did not respond to the emails sent to him. When The Chronicles contacted Llewellyn, a co-founder of APIE, via email, she only responded saying, “Please hold off writing anything until you have spoken to a member of APIE. Newmark will call you.” However, by press time, four days later, Newmark had not called. When we contacted Kate Hannon, a member of APIE based in Rwanda she refused to comment.

    “I am sorry I am not authorized to speak for Newmark and I can’t give you his mobile number, because I do not see anything to comment about the situation” said Hannon. In a latest development, the Mayor of Kicukiro District Paul Jules Ndamage recently called for a crisis resolution meeting which was attended by Rudasingwa and Hannon. After the meeting, the mayor announced that he had established an interim leadership of the school and transition period of three months to determine the fate of the situation.

    “The District has appointed Juvenal Muhire as the current headmaster of the school; Girubuntu is to appoint the deputy headmaster in charge of academic affairs while APIE will have to produce the deputy headmaster in charge of Finance and administration,” said Ndamage. He added that; “the case is now being handled by the ministry of justice and that Mr.[Hon] Tharcisse Karugarama might have already come up with the solution”. However, according to the mayor all lights are green for Mr. Brooks. “All the earlier documents reveal that the school’s property belongs to Newmark and [I don’t know] what those who issued the documentations in the names of Girubuntu based on”, the mayor commented.

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