Kigali reforms: Experts urge caution as MPs scrutinise Bill

City of Kigali Mayor Marie-Chantal Rwakazina speaks during the parliamentary healing on Tuesday. Left is the Minister for Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka. Craish Bahizi.

Authorities must ensure that the proposed reforms in the administration of the three urban districts in the City of Kigali do not disrupt delivery of crucial government services, experts have warned.

On Tuesday, the parliamentary Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Gender Equality started analysing the Local Government’s proposal to scrap legal personality for all the three districts in the city.

The plan is to make the City of Kigali the main office that decides what is done in terms of development across the metropolis.

The Minister for Local Government, Anastase Shyaka, says the move aims to eliminate difficulties occassioned by the fact that both the City Hall and the three districts of Gasabo, Kicukiro and Nyarugenge each have independent governing councils that decide what gets done.

City Hall in downtown Kigali. Experts have warned authorities must ensure that the proposed reforms in the administration of the three urban districts in the City of Kigali do not disrupt delivery of crucial government services. File. 

He told the committee that the proposed legislation will “make it possible to do effective planning and efficient use of resources for the city’s development”, urging MPs to approve the draft law.

Overall, many experts agree that, in a way, the current structures lead to duplication in many ways because each urban district today makes its own planning and therefore coordination at the City of Kigali level isn’t seamless.

Papias Dedeki Kazawadi, the president of the Institution of Engineers Rwanda (IER), a professional association of engineers, said that the current arrangement leads to waste of resources and poor flow of information. 

“There is duplication of efforts and unnecessary competition among the districts that make up the City of Kigali,” he said.

He added that sometimes employees at the City of Kigali and its districts have the same job positions and responsibilities.

Kazawadi said that the newly proposed structure would eliminate unnecessary overlaps.

The engineer is also impressed with the idea of appointing technocrats to the Council of the City of Kigali, besides the councilors elected by residents.

Under the proposed CoK governance law, some members of the Council of the City of Kigali will be elected and others appointed by the President of the Republic.

“Urban development requires having different skill sets and I think it’s good that skilled people will be appointed to the City’s governing council,” he said.  

One of the main objectives of the draft law is to assign the City of Kigali the responsibility to develop and monitor the infrastructure and urbanisation and the districts that constitute the City the responsibility to provide services for socioeconomic development.

The draft legislation proposes that all major decisions about the City of Kigali’s development will be made at the CoK level, and not by the entities that will replace the current districts under the proposed dispensation.

It proposes scrapping of the position of the Mayor at the district level, the District Councils as well as Executive Committee of the district.

Instead, the structure proposed to replace the current district leadership structure will include the      Executive Organ composed of a District Chief Administrator and the Deputy District Chief Administrator, both appointed by the Head of State for a term of five years, renewable once. These will be under the supervision of the City Mayor.

It is also proposed in the draft law that the administrator for each of the urban districts under the new arrangement will be assisted by a security committee, while a corporate services division will focus on delivering services to citizens. 

However, while Peter Bazimya, the acting president of Rwanda Urban Planning Institution, says that the proposed reform is not a bad idea, he reckons implementation will require close monitoring to ensure service delivery is not affected. 

“The appointing authority for the district administrators will have to closely follow up on the delivery of services to the public,” he said.

Similarly, Jean de la Croix Nkurayija, professor of political economy and development perspectives at University of Rwanda, told The New Times yesterday that the main concern should be the quality of service delivery. 

“The main problem has been poor service delivery even under the current decentralised system,” he said, wondering whether the reforms won’t end up worsening the situation.

To address this possible challenge, he said, there is need to maintain as many jobs at the district level as possible with view to continue improving service delivery.

“Starting everything afresh could bring about what we call retardation in development economics,” he warned.

Josephine Malonza, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s School of Architecture, is among those who strongly support the proposed reforms. She is of the view that the changes will help the City of Kigali to truly feel like one capital city.

“Kigali needs to feel like one city, this is the only capital city in the region with several mayors,” she said on Wednesday.

At the moment, both the City of Kigali and each of the district under its jurisdiction has a Mayor, two Vice Mayors, Councils, among other similar structures.