The Chronicles

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Category: News

  • Another Burundian Govt official named in FDLR racket

    The husband of Burundi’s police chief, Brig Gen Générose Ngendanganya, is the latest Burundian official to be named as facilitating the activities of the Rwandan FDLR rebels, The Chronicles can reveal. Mr. Nepomuscene Masirika, a senior official with the Burundian disarmament commission, is the contact person of the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in Burundi. Through Burundi, the rebels are able to transit their minerals to the international markets. The Burundi route is also used for provision of supplies including arms.

    Details about Masirika’s collaboration with the FDLR rebels are published in the latest UN investigation on armed groups in the region which was submitted to the Security Council December 30. But it was difficult for the UN panel to find hard incriminating evidence.
    “While, according to diplomatic and political sources, Masirika continues to be in contact with FDLR, the Group has not been able to verify any concrete material support between him and the Rwandan rebels,” says the report.

    Masirika is apparently a former senior officer in the Rwandan ex-President Juvenal Habyarimana’s government. It is not clear if he is Rwandan or Burundian, and no details are available on the history of his marriage to Burundi’s top police officer. Masirika uses the false name of François Niyibitanga in Burundi, according to the report.

    When contacted about the new revelations, Burundi’s envoy in Kigali, Amb. Remy Sinkazi said he was even unaware about the UN report. “I need to read the report first, consult with my government and then get back to you,” said Sinkazi in a phone interview with The Chronicles on Friday. What is clear is that his wife Brig Gen Générose Ngendanganya was a senior commander in the CNDD-FDD rebel group of current Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza. Since Nkurunziza came to power in 2005, she has held senior security-related positions.

    Masirika is the second official in President Nkurunziza’s government to be linked to the Rwandan rebels. In 2009, the same UN panel named General Adolphe Nshimirimana, Burundi’s intelligence chief as providing logistical support to the FDLR. Nshimirimana and the Burundian government vehemently denied the allegations. As indication that relations have never been better, several Rwandan dissidents have been rounded up in Burundi and handed to Kigali without any due process of the law. Notable among them is jailed opposition politician Deogratias Mushyayidi.

    President Kagame and his Burundian counterpart remain very close, at least from the regular visits each pays the other.

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  • 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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  • 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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