Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture have defended the 2011 sacking of an employee after MPs said the act violated employment rights.
The officials were appearing before a parliamentary standing Committee on Social Affairs to respond to allegations of unfair dismissal of Fortune Uwimana, a former human resource manager at the defunct, Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda (ISAR) during the 2011 merger of three institutions to form the Rwanda Agricultural Board (Rab).
Rab officials and Agriculture minister Agnes Kalibata said Uwimana was first suspended before she was finally sacked over “improper conduct.”
The Rab Human Resource Director, Domina Undoyeneza, told MPs that in 2008, Uwimana’s file indicated that she was cautioned, among others.
And in 2011, she was asked to repay ‘some funds’ that she allegedly obtained fraudulently from the institution but failed.
“It is such cases that led to her suspension, and ultimate dismissal. It was an issue of integrity. Although she was experienced and qualified, she lacked integrity,” Undoyeneza said.
But MPs said it was wrong not to reinstate the employee even after the Public Service Commission had exonerated her of the allegations.
Pointing to a Rab letter dated July 18, 2011, during the committee session, MP Espérance Mwiza said: “The Public Service Commission requested that she be re-instated owing to lack of evidence.”
“You also faulted procedures when you appraised her highly, listed her among the top performers but then suspended her, saying that you intended to find another post for her,” Mwiza asked.
The House plenary in March this year threw out the committee’s initial report on the dismissal on the basis that it was lacking and asked the members to properly re-examine it and report to the House by May 6, 2014.
“The Public Service Commission says it investigated the matter and actually exonerated Uwimana on improper conduct,” MP Marie Rose Mureshyankwano, the Committee chairperson, told Rab officials.
Uwimana petitioned Parliament on May 18, 2012. She maintains that her dismissal was in bad faith as all the allegations against her are false.
“I was unfairly treated and I am not going to rest till I get justice,” she said.
Her case is highlighted in the 2012/13 Public Service Commission report.