EDITORIAL: Enact stringent measures to curb unnecessary litigations against government

The government has been losing billions of francs due to lawsuits filed by the public. This has been an issue the Ministry of Justice has been grappling with for the last few years, and though the ministry says the problem has been stemmed considerably, it is still a serious threat.

The government has been losing billions of francs due to lawsuits filed by the public.

This has been an issue the Ministry of Justice has been grappling with for the last few years, and though the ministry says the problem has been stemmed considerably, it is still a serious threat.

Parliament has also taken on the battle with the Parliamentary Accounts Committee seeking answers from public officials.

Just this week, it resolved to summon district officials who seem to be the source of most litigations.

Most cases are caused by unilateral decisions by local leaders that could otherwise have been avoided had they sought legal advice.

Many are related to non-observance of basic laws governing human resource management regulations such as illegal termination of contracts or employment.

In 2013, the government announced that it had lost Rwf 2.3 billion francs within five years through litigations. In fact, it had lost more that 75 percent of cases brought against it.

But what is most amazing and perplexing is that even the little it wins in damages remain uncollected, that it has now hired non-professional bailiffs to do the job.

But as long as errant government officials are handled with kid gloves, the issue will remain. Those who fail to exercise due diligence while handling government affairs, should be called to account. That is the only message that will go through instead of empty threats or dismissals.

Once officials realize that they will have to reimburse any losses due to their negligence, they will take more care in handling government business.

And apart from managing the civil service, the Public Service Commission’s role should not be limited to drafting reports for parliament; it should be given a more robust mandate in conjunction with other judicial bodies.

Then, maybe, we will see a lull in the drainage of public resources.

 

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