Burundi president sacks Commerce Minister amid corruption allegations

Burundian president Evariste Ndayishimiye sacked the country’s Commerce Minister Immaculée Ndabaneze, according to a statement from the presidency, with sources within the administration claiming she embezzled funds of an airline.

“Considering the acts of the person concerned risk compromising the country’s economy and the image of Burundi… the honourable Immaculee Ndabaneze is dismissed from her functions as minister of commerce, transport, industry and tourism,” the statement on the state house’s official Twitter account said without providing further details.

Sources within the administration, however, allege that Ndabaneze was sacked over the illegal sale of the last plane of the now defunct Air Burundi and for allegedly embezzling funds earmarked for Burundi Airlines, the country’s future flagship carrier.

According to the sources, the plane, a Beechcraft 1900, had been dormant for more than a decade and was sold to a South African businessman without government approval.

Burundi has been ranked as one of the most corrupt countries globally over the years, according to Amnesty International.

Ndayishimiye, who succeeded the late Pierre Nkurunziza in June last year, pledged to make fighting corruption one of his top priorities.

The last three months have seen at least three managing directors, including the head of budget programming, as well as 119 municipal accountants sacked due to alleged embezzlement.

Despite that, none of them have been prosecuted, a situation anti-corruption organizations insist must be rectified as soon as possible to build public confidence.