Inextricable deceptions in the recruitment of civil servants in Rwanda

Fanfan Kayirangwa Rwanyindo, Minister of Public Service and Labou

By Rugemintwaza Erasme

The problem of employment in Rwanda is a real puzzle: to get a job, you have to engage in a game full of tips and tricks, but also stay in service is still a happy coincidence! Within the present, I intend analyze the question of the granting of employment which is now more than ever alarming in Rwandan society and on how does the situation look like.

The issue of finding employment in Rwanda is alarming. Of course, there are many enticing advantages in public employment, but often you never ask yourself how to do it, when in fact the road leading to it is littered with pitfalls that would discourage more than one! For when we look at the way leaders are driving luxury jeeps offered by the state, from the Executive Secretary of the sector to the great dignitaries from above, we feel the desire to serve the state, so that we can also enjoy the national cake.

But getting a job in the Rwandan public service, even the one considered of lesser importance in the cell or in education, is not this American dream of equality of citizens before public goods, or those sacrosanct principles of equality enshrined by both international and national law. Finding a job in Rwanda is the result of pernicious schemes

Who really grants the job?

When we read the advertisements of job opportunities, we see that public institutions, private institutions and public agencies have many vacancies. Often the positions on offer are filled on an interim basis for service reasons, but often those who are appointed as acting staff are waiting for a facet examination to be confirmed! This is the first recruitment trick! To be a public official, examinations are usually passed (except for political positions), both written and oral. We are selected if we get at least an average of 70% for both exams. Do the winners really win, especially as there are some who are already reputed in their communities for not knowing anything? Are all the winners at least called to service in proportion to the vacancies? Let us analyze recruitment in districts, which normally accumulate more public servants than in other public services.

The administration of Rwandan Districts is often confused with the governance of the RPF. Normally, every district in Rwanda has a leader of the RPF, who must be on the District Executive Committee. Almost all but less than three districts in Rwanda are run by RPF executives. So, you will find that the mayor is at the same time the leader of the RPF -the “Chairman”-, title more respected than that of mayor! The accumulation of the functions of mayor and head of the district RPF confers extraordinary power, both in the workplace where staff treat him like God, and in the outside world. So, it’s these “Chairmen” who give the job! Whenever there are vacancies in the district, for a variety of reasons, including the expulsion of those that the system or the Executive Committee no longer wants, the chairmen draw up a list of designated candidates for the various positions.  

When the place is at the management level, the chairmen agree with the provincial and/or national authorities as well as the security services to ensure that the place is really given to the right man. Or all these high-ranking RPF dignitaries and executives, bring their candidates to better share them without compromising themselves. The approved list is given to the agency that will pass the exams. In Rwanda, there is a districts forum called RALGA, which is, among other things, responsible for coordinating the recruitment of public officials in districts. The aforementioned list is secretly handed over to the director of RALGA. If necessary, RALGA cheats on the scans selected from the list; this to avoid any possibility of failure. That is, every effort is made to protect the “theirs.” 

In a district whose Executive Secretary forgot to protect “their” old man cadre of the RPF, who was mayor and who had just obtained a bachelor’s degree, at a university that has now closed the doors. The Executive Secretary has been blamed for negligence and recklessness for the protection of RPF cadres! The old man, who was then 58 years old in 2017, had obtained 16/50 in the written exam, so he was not admitted to the oral test, because it requires to have got at least 25/50! It is to everyone’s astonishment that during the examinations for other positions, the old man was the first for the position of director in the district! Everyone, even simple salesmen at the market where he was mayor can tell you that he did not do the exam.  Now he is continuously mutated to find him a place where he may feel comfortable given that he does not know how to use a computer! 

A very alarming case is that passing the exams does not mean you have the chance to automatically get the post. Indeed, too many people succeeded, but waited in vain for the assignment letters. There are others who are also called to tell them that the position is not budgeted. To their surprise, the post office is handed over to the market six months later or shamelessly people who were not part of candidates are surreptitiously occupying the famous positions.  For vacancies that are not good for RPF executives, because of a not-too-attractive salary or because the job is hard, being on the sacrosanct list of elected officials for employment requires other requirements. So, what are these other conditions for getting a job?

A system undermined by ethnicism

It is well known in Rwanda that Kagame’s government cultivates all forms of segregation; yet the fight against segregation was among the nine points of his manifesto. There are posts where the Hutu is told that he has knocked at the wrong door! Surprisingly, this idea is all over taking place, whether among his Hutu colleagues or among those noble Tutsis where the intruder wanted to work! And when you’re lucky enough to get such a job and in such an environment, both sides keep telling you that you’re the luckiest man! Because the place was originally reserved for the Tutsi. The example is the position of District Executive Secretary that any Hutu cannot occupy with a few exceptions.

This exception may apply to others, but for the Hutu, it is almost impossible unless they are sponsored by a favorite tycoon of the regime, who argues that the concerned is a “good Hutu, unrivalled”. We also know that the Hutus are given hard-pressed posts or repugnant jobs for the Tutsis, because they are hard or poorly paid! In a word the principle is this: first the Tutsis. To sit the job exam as a Hutu is often in a bid to see if the opportunity can randomly arise and to find that there is no Tutsi competitor.

Hutus who get jobs are kept silent and in a complete docility. They never make decisions and are almost of useless to their relatives in various ways. It is easy to find a Hutu minister who has a brother to whom he has not managed to find a job! This is well known in the upper levels of the state. The convincing cases are there where a Hutu minister is simply there, and it is not he who makes the decisions, and he himself acknowledges his impotence and can entrust it to you! In the Executive Committees of Hutu-dominated districts, especially in the northern province, Tutsi is the most feared and respected, even though he is the district’s executive secretary! The case was raised by Mr Murekezi then prime minister when Musanze District was declared the last in the assessment of performance contracts where he stated that he knew the very reason of that after having found out that the Tutsi bagogwe working there even in lower positions were rejecting orders issued by the Hutu mayor.

This Hutu problem was highlighted by KAGAME himself at the inauguration of Hutu Prime Minister Edouard NGIRENTE. Kagame said that he knows that some (Tutsis of course) will be disrespectful to him, because he is young and arguing that they master the system better than he does and can thus mislead him! Kagame told them he would never tolerate that. He claimed to be talking about the prime minister’s youth, but we know very well that he wanted to warn those Tutsi who never tolerate the presence of the Hutus in the highest political spheres of the state! Another recent scandal is that of the current mayor of Gicumbi district, a Hutu who was a university lecturer who proposed to the district council to dismiss three Tutsi executive secretaries of sectors for incompetence. The latter reacted by submitting the issue to the headquarters of RPF alleging they were chased by a Hutu due to their ethnic and they unexpectedly retook their posts.

Corruption at its peak!

When you do not have advantage of ethnicity (being Tutsi), genocide survivor, RPF spy executive, to find a job, you must have wads of bank notes! Any job, even the lowest one of an officer of cell or primary school teacher whose salary does not exceed 50 thousand Rwandan francs, is reserved for the one who offered some cash ”akantu”. The primary school teacher pays at least three hundred thousand Rwandan francs (300,000 Francs), or six months’ salary, to get his job. The heads of the district labor departments, have commissionaires to collect bribes, which at their turn must share with the district’s executive committee. There is a district mayor who once ordered the cancellation of the recruitment exams because the vice mayor had not given him any money in the corruption that was reported. In fact, on the list of exam results, there were duplications of grades that raised suspicions because some candidates had double marks, success and failure. Corruption is widespread in all districts of Rwanda and there are cases where workers have been arrested and imprisoned like in Kayonza district.  In Musanze, the director of labor was once suspected of corruption.  But in Musanze, there is an old and arrogant RPF executive who is in charge of teachers, who as usual asked a poor orphan for the 500-mile-franc bribe. But the bottom line is that he did not grant the work. One suspects that he initially asked her for the new form of corruption in vogue, sex! How then can one tolerate such a person who ruins wretched orphans, in addition to a Hutu orphan, abandoned to himself by the state? A Hutu orphan who has studied painfully while selling goats, as the cow in the “A Cow for the Family” program (Girinka) cannot be sold; the Hutu orphan who sells eggs and peanuts in the holidays to find tuition; this poor orphan who never enjoy holidays because she must work as a mason’s helper to get food. How is it that a case like this goes unnoticed! Isn’t that a way to cover savage corruption!

The overwhelming confidences of women!

The most terrible form of corruption in the RPF regime is sexual corruption. By analyzing a simple sample of the executive secretaries of the sectors and women vice mayors, it is easy to find that, from Nyagatare to Rusizi, from Rubavu to Kirehe, behind the political rise of a woman, there is the case of sexual corruption with a powerful man! There are those who continue to abuse them, even after their appointment, to the point that the RPF reprimands them! The sample shows that there is always a history with strongmen especially the generals. There is a woman friend, who revealed to me that women of higher public powers, as the deputies; justices of higher courts, national prosecutors, ministers and others have revealed the sad truth: their buttocks are no longer enticing! She said to me, “If you wish me to be mayor of the district, you wish me ipso facto to endlessly commit adultery. Because the Inkotanyi can never give you a good place without exploiting and sexually cushioning you. Our husbands do not know which saints to devote themselves to, but end up by living a philosophy of consolation to calm down: if there are women who can attack the servants, how can one lament against when it brings back profits from a beautiful house to a jeep or luxury pickup to the family? “We have no choice, this sex-based corruption has become a part of practices in the RPF system; it is virtually impossible to get a promotion until you become the executive secretary without going through this route, except for the women who came with the Inkotanyi when invading the country. The returnees in fact have strong relations with each other due to their past lives in exile and during the war. In fact, they are appointed in the context of recognition of what they have done. Currently you have seen that we have started to appoint young people to the posts of ministers, just their children. As for us, female Tutsi genocide survivors and Hutus, we agree to cushion our buttocks if someone deigns to appreciate them and we draw a beautiful house and a nice jeep? How else can we do? ». The one who gave me these confidences is an executive secretary of sector in a district of Rwanda. She told me all this following the vows I had expressed, wishing that she would continue to climb up the administrative hierarchy to one day become district mayor. That’s how jobs are gifted in Rwanda! The grant is based on the system set up by the RPF regime, a system of pitiful nepotism and clientelism, a system of recognition to brothers-in-arms; but a system of corruption in its most pernicious form: sexual corruption for women! That is what continues to cost the state very much. Because it is of common knowledge that a manager or a simple employee, parachuted into a service like a packet of mails (they are given the nickname “take away”), often intellectually null, works as he/she wants. Sometimes, to blackmail their co-workers and so get covered their incompetence, these “take away” arrogantly say, “Do you know who brought me here?” In some government agencies, such as Rwanda Energy Group (REG), because they are full of these “take away” who do not have the knowledge or skills to carry out their tasks and responsibilities while paradoxically holding up Master’s degrees, almost all the work is done by the consulting agencies in the design and implementation of projects! These children of the party-state, RPF, actually come to work to receive good wages and moreover, and by tricks, embezzle the public purse! This employment, which is not based on knowledge and skills, is at the root of low productivity at work. This puts the state in mountains of debts more expensive than the country itself; and Rwanda prides itself on registering unparalleled economic growth! When will all this come to an end?