Rwandan Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of International Community of La Francophonie (OIF), has been facing strong criticisms from governments of member states over alleged mismanagement. The criticisms started in 2021 and have now culminated in a decision by the Canadian Government to cut for at least a year, its financial participation in the organization. With the Canadian decision, communicated by Canada Minister of Foregn Affairs, Mélanie Joly, in a letter dated April 2, 2023, the fate of Louise Mushikiwabo in Francophonie has become uncertain.
Francophonie Under Former Rwandan Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
The Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF - International Organisation of La Francophonie), also known as the Francophonie, is an international organization formed by 88 member states in which French language is a customary or an official language. Its headquarters are in Paris, with an annual budget of around $100 millions and more than 300 employees.
The Francophonie is currently led by a Rwandan former minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, as Secretary General. However, the Rwandan Government, which in the past was Francophone, no longer considers French as an official language and has instead joined The CommonWealth.
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Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo replaced the Canadian Michaëlle Jean in January 2019. During the transition, it was clarified that one of the challenges OIF was facing was mismanagement of public funds, allocated by the member states. Michaëlle Jean was criticized for allegedly mismanaging the funds, especially pointing to allocation of funds to activities and projects not related to the primary mission of the organization: langage and culture. However, less than two years latter, Louise Mushikiwabo was accused of similar faults of mismanagament. The criticism of the mismanagement of the Francophine became louder as the IX Francophonie Games were planned in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), between August 19-28, 2022 (Francophonie: Rwandan Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General, Facing Strong Criticisms Over Alleged Mismanagement).
Findings of Alledgedly Mismanagement of Funds, Sexual Harassment, and Nepotism.
The latest findings were a result of an internal audit and survey by independent investigators. The internal audit and survey involved around 300 OIF employees. According to reports, 209 of the approximately 300 OIF employees surveyed reported a toxic working environment under the leadership of Louise Mushikiwabo, with 44% of respondents stating that they have been victims of harassment at work and 9% of sexual harassment. According to the survey, the situation has progressively worsened due to the toxic work climate aggravated by a series of controversial decisions by Secretary General Louise Mushikiwabo.
Based on the findings, the government of Canada has decided to sever its participation funding to the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), for at least a year. Canada has cut $3M from its annual participation in the OIF budget funding of around $15 M per year.
It was found that Louise Mushikiwabo has been responsible for many controversial decisions, mismanagement and potential embezzlement of funds.
These conclusions were based on the following:
- In 2021, the investigation found that Secretary General Louise Mushikiwabo spent $120,000 to move into a new apartment, and since then, has been paying a monthly rent of $18,000.
- The Secretary General Louise Mushikiwabo has, against the OIF statutes and procedures, assumed certain powers to the detriment of other OIF executives, including Caroline St-Hilaire from Quebec , Canada, the number 2 of the OIF.
- Againt the OIF statutes, Secretary General Louise Mushikiwabo made numerous discretionary and suspect appointments of executives and personnel, with most pointing to nepotism and oligarchy.
Historical Mismanagement of Funds and Nepotism Linked to the Oligarchy Ruling Rwanda.
When Ms. Louse Mushikiwabo was appointed in 2019, many across the board had pointed to the disregard for human rights and fundamental freedoms, given that she was a former Minister of the Rwandan government, led by General Paul Kagame, widely accused of major crimes and systematic abuses of humanity rights. Some of the major crimes were documented in 2010 UN Mapping Report and several followup investigations.
During her inauguration speech, Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo promised major changes within OIF, including bringing soundness in the management, fighting nepotism and promoting transparency. She had hired a private firm to help her in the task.
In 2021, after a little more than 2 years in office, indepedent reports had started to clearly show that the situation in OIF appeared to worsen. Then, Liberation, a french media, published a slating report on the alleged mismanagement of OIF under Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo leadership.
According to Liberation, some close aides to Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo were wasting large sums of money and the reforms promised by Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo were never implemented. The media also disclosed the content of a February 2020 report, pointing to nepotism in recruitments, financial irregularities, a lack of fraud prevention or even potential corruption. That report was apparently squashed by the current OIF management team.
The spokesperson of OIF had the rejected the criticisms arguing that the changes promised by Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo were underway. Meanwhile, several official members of the governments of the member states of OIF persistenly requested investigations into the mismanagement of OIF under Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo.
The latest investigations, survey, audit and reports appear to have addressed the request. Ms. Louise Mushikiwabo has apparently dismissed the findings, but the Government of Canada has decided to move forward with a consequential decision.
The decision by the government of Canada may be a first step, to be followed by many otherr countries. In fact, following the publication and announcment of the decision, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly , stated that the financial and administrative mismanagement by Louse Mushikiwabo have contributed to the decision to temporarily cut funding for at least a year and to donate the money to other “operators and institutions to support their respective mandates, in support of French-speaking populations”. She added that the government and the people of Canada "hope to see tangible changes on these issues in the coming weeks and months.".
©AfroAmerica Network, 2023
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