The Rwandan Patriotic Front-RPF Inkotanyi has come out to defend its businesses registered under Crystal Ventures Ltd, saying that it is no secret that the ruling party runs a number of companies and big investments in and outside Rwanda.
Crystal Ventures Ltd, formerly Tri-Star and other RPF investments are estimated to have assets worth over $500 million but the party has for some time been accused of influencing government decisions to award lucrative deals to itself — but the RPF Secretariat denies any such doings.
“It is not true. We have been outsmarted in broad daylight on many decisions and deals, losing out bids to local and international companies and we cannot do anything about it. We try again to bid elsewhere. I can confirm that our companies have not won any tenders because they belong to RPF,” says Francois Ngarambe, the RPF secretary-general.
Mr Ngarambe says that to avoid any compromising tendering processes and to promote favourable competition for market deals, the party does not participate in the bidding processes.
The chief executives of the individual companies are given a free hand to make decisions and follow the processes.
“When we bid for tenders, we don’t go there as RPF. In fact we encourage our CEO’s to put in bids and compete with the rest of the other private companies,” says Mr Ngarambe.
RPF vice chairman Christophe Bazivamo says that as a party which promotes good governance and the rule of law, RPF’s companies compete with others favourably without flouting the law adding that it has lost out in some instances to private companies.
“One thing which is clear is that the ruling party is not forbidden from carrying out business activities as long as it doesn’t break any laws,” Mr Bazivamo says.
He however adds that the only difference is that since 1994, the party has invested “where everyone else fears to,” particularly in areas which were needed to kick-start the economy and it has paid off.
To date, the party continues to invest in risky sectors of the economy, which has given its businesses an edge.
“The kind of work our companies do are for the good of our country. The party sits and agrees where money should be invested, mainly in economic development activities and then the proceeds are invested elsewhere, buying shares here and there,” Mr Bazivamo says.
He says that depending on the circumstances, the companies join hands with private companies’ especially when it comes to investing in areas of national importance.
Crystal Ventures owns Real Contractors, a multi-million construction and real estate firm; Inyange Industries, the country’s leading beverage manufacturer, NPD Cotraco, a road construction firm, Intersec, a security firm, as well as Bobourn Coffee, a leading coffee shop with branches abroad.
The company also owns a tile and granite factories, stakes in MTN, a leading telecom firm, Mutara Enterprises, a furniture firm, Media systems group and GPS Rwanda, both dealing in media and print.
According to available records, Crystal Ventures is the second best employer after the government, with over 5,000 employed in the different firms. From the proceeds, the party finances its political activities.