Ombudsman urges districts to cooperate in governance contest

The Office of the Ombudsman has urged districts to maximally respond to the annual District Good Governance Competition.

The Office of the Ombudsman has urged districts to maximally respond to the annual District Good Governance Competition.

The competition, which aims to promote good governance and the fight against corruption, is meant to measure districts’ performance in such areas as transparent tendering, public resource accountability, property declaration of leaders and general good governance practices.

In the first phase, the Ombudsman’s Office sends forms to all districts to estimate and mark their annual performance. These forms are then sent back to the Ombudsman’s office after the communicated time. 

The second phase involves the Ombudsman office’s visits to the districts to verify what was reported. The three best performing districts are then rewarded at a ceremony graced by mayors and provincial governors. 

Jeanne Pauline Gashumba, the acting Director of Preventing and Fighting Corruption Unit at the Ombudsman’s Office, told The New Times that some districts  either fail to fill the appraisal forms or decline to send them back to the their office.

 “We give them time to verify their own performance, but some don’t respect the procedures. This needs to be addressed,” she said.

She added that the Ombudsman staff would visit the districts and assess achievements and “deduct some points for their lack of cooperation”.

The District Good Governance contest has been conducted for four years now. The latest report released in November, 2011, ranked the districts of Gisagara, Nyamasheke and Kamonyi,  respectively, as the best three in the country,  while Rwamagana was the worst performer, with a ‘zero’ score.

Gashumba said Rwamagana scored zero because “it did not complete the self-evaluation form and its leaders also declined to meet the team from the Ombudsman’s office, which had approached them for its findings after prior communication. This team therefore had nothing to compile”.

Meanwhile, some officials in Rwamagana District, including the Executive Secretary, have been suspended or warned in relation to the matter.  Commenting on the exercise, a Nyamasheke District Vice Mayor, Catherine Gatete, commended the scheme.

“Since we perceive it as a competition, where everyone wishes to win, it forces every leader to implement good practices and trying to make innovations in order to get a good image. For instance, last year, we were third, and we tried to correct our weak areas, like documentation and reporting,” she noted.
   
emma.munyaneza@newtimes.co.rw

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