The Minister for Local Government has urged local officials to improve their services to the people, noting that since local leaders are closer to the people, they should lead by good example.
Francis Kaboneka made the call yesterday while addressing more than 500 local government officials who converged at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Eastern Province for a two-day team building retreat since Friday.
“Local government is the mirror of good governance. I hope that you will leave the retreat with a goal that no one will impede our aim for good governance,” he said.
Kaboneka urged local leaders to use the retreat to assess and analyse their performance and resolve to sustain any good achievements while doing away with bad practices.
Running under the theme; “Delivering as a Citizen-Centred Local Government”, the retreat brought together district leaders, including all executive secretaries of sectors, district executive committee members, as well as the mayor of the City of Kigali and his deputies.
Also in attendance are provincial leaders, top officials in the Ministry of Local Government and its affiliated agencies, as well as managers of the Rwanda Association for Local Government Authorities (Ralga).
While the Ministry of Local Government (Minaloc) holds a retreat for its staff every year, it is the first time all the executive secretaries of sectors (416) are included in the retreat. Officials at the ministry said they invited sector leaders because they want to engage them in improving service delivery since they are the ones closer to the people.
“The ministry has recognised the importance and role of sectors in promoting good governance and executive secretaries are key to service delivery and good governance in the country,” said Ladislas Ngendahimana, communications expert with Minaloc.
Local leaders are under pressure to improve their services, with the most recent edition of the Rwanda Governance Scorecard, a national barometer that looks at performance in all key sectors in the country, indicating minimal performance on the quality of service delivery in public entities, mainly at the local government level.
Prof. Anastase Shyaka, Chief Executive Officer of the Rwanda Governance Board, the institution that produced the Governance Scorecard, pointed out that corruption at local government level had hindered delivery of some of the most important social protection services such as the cattle-stocking programme commonly known as Girinka, and Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP) whereby money is distributed to the most vulnerable.
Shyaka told The New Times last week that such social protection programmes which are delivered through many people need to be followed very closely. “We need to maximise our accountability,” he said, adding that “such petty corruption affects efficiency”.
As Kaboneka told leaders at the retreat that they need to serve people in a way that they are seen as genuine and caring leaders, the latter said most of the resolutions from the recent National Leadership Retreat will be implemented by local government officials, which puts them in a special position with regards to improving service delivery in the country.
“Instead of drawing back the intended progress, the officials with poor service delivery should just leave public service,” Shyaka said.
The National Leadership Retreat held last month resolved to draw a list of all the stalled government projects and set a deadline to implement them, while those whose delay was a result of corruption be referred to public prosecutors to initiate legal action.