DRC’s Alingete & Nsaa-Nsaabe: Tug-of-war on defining financial mismangement

By Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala
Posted on Thursday, 13 January 2022 19:46

Jules Alingete, the head of the IGF, and Izemengia Nsaa-Nsaa, the first president of the Court of Auditors. © Montage JA: Colin Delfosse for JA; DRC Court of Auditors

Jules Alignete is head of the "Inspection Générale des Finances", while Izemengia Nsaa-Nsaa presides over the Court of Auditors. Each has his own definition of “mismanagement.” Behind this technical tug-of-war, there is a very political issue at stake.

Although this debate might seem technical, it is also profoundly political. Should the DRC’s many ministries and institutions’ very large and repeated budget overruns be considered as “mismanagement” or not?

Jules Alingete, the highly publicised head of the Inspection Générale des Finances (IGF), believes that these overruns are the result of a political choice, and therefore constitute “neither an act of misappropriation nor an act of mismanagement.”

He adopted this position last October when questioned, during a press briefing, about the measures that the IGF intended to take against ministries that had exceeded the expenditure ceiling allocated to them by the Finance Act. On the contrary, Ernest Izemengia Nsaa-Nsaa, the first president of the Court of Auditors, feels that they are the product of mismanagement. Therefore, they are illegal.

The stakes are high. In its report on the execution of the 2020 budget, which was published on 29 December, the Court of Auditors noted abysmal overruns. In 2020, the Ministry of Mines held the sad record, with a budget corresponding to 961.08% of the credits allocated to it in the Finance Act. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is 411.55% over budget. As for the presidency, although it had a budget overrun of 13.55% in 2020, its services seem to have largely softened compared to the previous year. And even more so compared to the overruns observed during Joseph Kabila’s era.

Jules Alingete targeted

At the end of December, during an intervention that had the air of a lecture, Nsaa-Nsaa led the charge, directly targeting Alingete.

“The IGF thinks that overspending does not constitute mismanagement? Let’s question the law. The Court only rules based on the law,” said the magistrate. In this case, the law on public finance establishes that “budgetary credits are limited” and that expenditure “cannot be committed and ordered beyond the budgetary allocations,” said Nsaa-Nsaa.

The only possible exception to this steadfast rule is if the budgetary authority has submitted the overrun for prior authorisation, in this case, the National Assembly. Otherwise, “if there is an overrun, it is because the law has been violated,” said the first president of the Court of Auditors. Alingete resolutely maintains his position, telling us that “Article 129 of the law on public finance, which states that budget overruns constitute mismanagement, is not yet in force.”

This clash between the two men is not the first. In an interview with us last August, Alingete accused the Court of Auditors of not fulfilling its role. “We, at the IGF, are in great need of the Court of Auditors because we are currently the only ones that are suffering from predatory attacks,” he said.

Unknown to the general public before Félix Tshisekedi appointed him as head of the IGF in July 2020, this economist by trade has become one of the leading figures in the fight against corruption that the Congolese head of state claims to want to lead.

Within the space of a few months, the IGF has increased its capacities on all fronts: auditing public companies, conducting a census of illegal ports, linking blue business cards to the Treasury, applying a GO Pass airport tax, auditing Gécamines and managing the Bukanga Lonzo scandal.

The Alingete services, who are always happy to talk to the press, continue to unearth many cases. This media omnipresence is something he fully accepts and even claims to be one of the levers at his disposal to fight against corruption and mismanagement. “Not communicating has not worked in the past,” he said a few days after taking office as head of the IGF.

A paralysed Court of Audit

However, this stance has earned him criticism and some people have also questioned his agency’s room for manoeuvre, as it is directly under the auspices of the presidency of the Republic. At the end of October, the Observatory of Public Expenditure (Odep) accused him of covering up the “financial mismanagement” of the presidency, which, according to this NGO that monitors the management of public finances, has very large budget overruns every month.

Alingete replied that he had, on several occasions, disagreed with certain members of the presidential camp, citing, in particular, Eteni Longondo, the former health minister, who was accused of mismanaging funds intended to fight against Covid-19, and Tony Mwamba, the minister of primary, secondary and technical education, who was also accused of misappropriating funds.

Many civil society organisations are pleading for the revival of the Court of Auditors, which shares certain prerogatives in the fight against corruption with the IGF, but whose members are supposed to be more independent. Except that the Court of Auditors is currently in a deadlock. The magistrates who compose it, appointed during Kabila’s presidency, have not officially taken their oaths.

Its president, Nsaa-Nsaa, has confirmed this.

In office since 1987, he arrived at the head of the body in 2007. Less outspoken than the GIF’s boss, he has a reputation for being a rigorous magistrate who is careful to stay away from any partisan commitment. “He is trying to deal with the constant pressures he has experienced, and knows, from his work,” says one of his close friends, who assures us that “it has never been easy for him due to the different powers that have succeeded one another since he took office.”

“40 magistrates and 11 advocates general have been appointed, but they are not yet working,” says the president of the body. The fault, according to him, lies with “the blockage that is observed in the National Assembly and the Presidency of the Republic.”

More than a simple duel between two men, or even between two institutions whose prerogatives sometimes overlap, the tug of war between Nsaa-Nsaa and Alingete proves, at the very least, that the DRC’s strategy to fight corruption and bad financial governance is not without its problems.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options