Leadership Retreat: What is on the table?

At least 250 top public officials will take time off their usual schedules to take part in the 12 edition of the National Leadership Retreat.
Some of the officials who attended the National Leadership Retreat last year take to morning exercises. (File)
Some of the officials who attended the National Leadership Retreat last year take to morning exercises. (File)

At least 250 top public officials will take time off their usual schedules to take part in the 12 edition of the National Leadership Retreat.

During the three-day retreat, public officials discuss issues of national interest and come up with concrete strategies to steer the country towards its development goals.

This year’s  retreat will take place at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre, Gabiro, in the Eastern Province.

President Paul Kagame chairs the retreat  that is attended by senior government officials including cabinet ministers, ambassadors, governors, mayors, heads of government agencies and senior members of the Legislature and Judiciary.

Representatives of the private sector also take part in the proceedings.

According to Alpha Mirembe, the director of Cabinet in the Office of the Prime Minister, this year’s retreat will cover different areas, however, issues like health financing are likely to take centre stage.

“There will be a broader look into several issues of public interest like the Universal health insurance scheme (Mutuelle de Santé) and coming up with new strategies and approaches,”  Mirembe told The New Times last week.

Mutuelle de Santé, a largely successful health insurance policy to which the biggest part of the population subscribe, has of recent been marred by cases of mismanagement.

A plan is underway to overhaul the system, and the retreat will be a good time for the leaders to fix the loopholes before the scheme is taken over by the Rwanda Social Security Board in the forthcoming fiscal year.

The issue led to the resignation of leaders of at least three districts – Rusizi, Karongi and Nyamasheke – with some ending up in detention pending criminal charges.

These were not the only local government leaders who lost their jobs. Besides the mayors in the three districts named above, the past six months have seen mayors of four other districts step down for different reasons, but all pointing at failure to deliver to the people, the services they deserve.

This will probably be tackled in the discussion under leaders’ accountability where the deliberations will be themed; Rethinking the Government’s Approach to Delivery.

Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, the president of the Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (Ralga), Justus Kangwagye, said the association will during the retreat bring to table issues related to ethics, advocacy and capacity building for local leaders.

“As we approach the end of the third phase of decentralisation, we need to prepare local leaders on the opportunities and tasks that may unfold in the future. Also for leadership to be progressing there must me accountability, this is why, as Ralga, we have much interest in capacity building of the key stakeholders who are the local leaders,” Kangwagye, who also doubles as the mayor of Rulindo, said.

He added that the retreat will also look into career development for local leaders.

“If we are talking about ethics of leaders, we can’t leave out accountability – the two are part and parcel of career development,” he said.

Infrastructure development

Another key area to be tabled is infrastructure development. 

According to Mirembe, key concerns of water and sanitation will have to be addressed with particular focus on waste management and identifying basic infrastructure needed to manage sewage in urban areas.

The role of the private sector in the development of the economy is also considered one of the areas that need specific attention. With Rwanda steadily becoming an ideal destination for hosting conferences and other events, there is need for the private businesses to have more stake in the sector.

This is mainly through ensuring that the private sector, especially those in the hospitality industry, besides putting up the requisite infrastructure and other investments, also fix concerns of poor service delivery.

This was also emphasised in an interview with the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Abbas Mukama, who said that he expects the retreat to put special consideration on service delivery.

“Poor service delivery affects our efforts of attracting investors, as people charged with making business and investment related laws, we want to ensure that the service industry is improved otherwise our efforts would be going to waste,” he said.

Evaluation

Mirembe said that they will also take stock of the resolutions made during last year’s retreat through a presentation from the Prime Minister on the implementation status of 2014 Leadership Retreat recommendations.

The Minister for Finance and Economic Planning will also present an update on the implementation of public investment projects and the chief executive of the Rwanda Governance Board will present the Government Scorecard.

According to Mirembe, 70 per cent of the commitments made during the 2014 retreat have been achieved.

“About 30 per cent of the remaining commitments are on the watch [list], while one is pending,” Mirembe said.

Part of the 42 resolutions made at the previous retreat, included o improving the process of negotiation, drafting and management of contracts between the government and private companies with the aim of ensuring proper implementation.

“This was achieved through several mechanisms put in place by the ministry of justice including training of legal officers,” Mirembe said.

 Other major highlights of the 2014 retreat included concerns related to individuals involved in the mismanagement of government projects that caused losses to taxpayers.

 According to Mirembe, 30 case files of public servants have been opened by the Judiciary and now being handled by the courts.

Pending issues include Ubudehe classification, which, according to Mirembe, would be done by May, revamping of some institutions such as Onatracom and the Post Office and developing a policy and legal framework on low cost housing.

“There is work in progress to achieve these set goals like the low cost housing policy is in its advanced stage. The reasons as to why some goals are not fully achieved is mainly because they are long term targets that may take more than a year to accomplish,” Mirembe said.