PROBE - THE office of the Secretary General in Ministry of Commerce and Industry (Minicom) is on the spot over offering a job to an official recently turned down by public service and Labour ministry while others were reportedly hired after failing interviews. Early this month, the SG Justin Nsengiyumva reportedly overlooked recommendations from the Labour ministry to maintain the post of Planning officer vacant till it was re-advertised. Instead, the SG moved in the opposite direction, recruited Christian Twahirwa, a person who had been rejected by the Mifotra and reportedly signed for him a contract of Frw 250,000 monthly salary.
The minister of Public Service, Labour and Skills Development, Prof. Manasseh Nshuti reportedly requested Nsengiyumva to re-advertise the post but his directive issued on September, 13, 2007, did not include reasons as to why Twahirwa was rejected.
It was not possible to get a comment from Prof. Nshuti, as he did not answer repeated calls on Friday. But his SG, Marceline Mukamurangwa said yesterday Twahirwa should not have been recruited until his fate had been determined.
“Maybe it was an urgent case and they felt we were delaying the appointment,” Mukamurangwa said by phone.
She, however, declined to comment on why the ministry rejected Twahirwa.
Twahirwa’s case has since triggered sharp differences between the SG and some officials in the Ministry.
A source privy with activities inside the ministry claims the SG has continued giving jobs to people in total disregard to recruitment guidelines.
The source alleges that in June last year, Nsengiyumva, recruited Jack Rwumbuguza in the procurement office, a person who had earlier failed an interview for the post of Tourism officer.
Rwumbuguza had during the interview reportedly scored only 45 percent yet the legal pass mark is 70 and above.
In addition, during the April 2006 recruitment, JMV Kabayiza was reportedly recruited for the post of Budget officer, despite the fact he had performed poorly during the interview.
Nsengiyumva also reportedly recommended Laurence Mukarugwiza, in charge of Regional Integration for a three months training in Namibia before she fully became an employee of the ministry.
“Yes, she filled the forms for training before she was officially appointed here. Ordinarily, people who go for training must have served at least three months,” the source within the ministry who preferred anonymity told The New Times.
Asked if the scandal of Twahirwa was unprecedented, Nsengiyumva said it is not surprising for people who sit interviews for the post of Tourism to be transferred to Procurement.
“It happens and the Ministry of Labour allows it in cases where the posts have similar minimum requirements,” said Nsengiyumva at his office on September 27.
He explained just as an example that if two applicants interviewed, qualify for the post of Human Resources, one can assume the office in human resource department while the other can be transferred to another section if there is vacancy without necessarily being subjected to interviews.
However, the source insists that recruitment should be based on both work experience and academic qualifications and thus different interviews differ from post to post.
TheSG defended Twahirwa, saying he deserved the post since according to Rwanda Institute of Advanced Management (Riam)’s report dated June, 27 2006; he had obtained the required pass mark.
“The information we have indicates that Twahirwa passed an interview organized by Riam. Up to now, I don’t know why the Labour ministry rejected him,” Nsengiyumva said.
Nsengiyumva added that by the time the Ministry rejected Twahirwa, Minicom had already hired him and there was no way he could have been sacked after he had commenced his duties.
“Sometimes re-advertising these posts or conducting interviews are costly. You can look at someone and you see he is competent to serve in different capacities,” observed Nsengiyumva.
He added that everybody in the ministry has had a training opportunity and Mukarugwiza was being attacked unfairly.
He however does not remember when Mukagwiza was appointed but said she could have gone for the Namibia training after serving only one month.
At the heart of dispute is Nsengiyumva’s Secretary, Irakiza Josian, who is said to be drawing two salaries. This has also set a stage for tension among employees.
Irakiza reportedly goes home at the end of the month with about Frw 270,000, a salary relatively high compared to other employees under the same category.
Sources said Irakiza earns a salary of Frw 170,000 from Mifotra and Frw 100,000 from integrated framework, a capacity building World Bank project under Minicom.
It is unusual, the source added for a Secretary to be given such ‘special treatment’ because it is the one person earning two salaries.
But Nsengiyumva says his Secretary deserves double payment because she works hard and extra hours. He says Irakiza spends extra hours serving the integrated framework project after her colleagues have retired.
The labour code No. 51/2001, of 30/12/2001 gazetted by ministerial order of No. 16/19 of 27/06/2003 states eight as normal working hours, beyond this, the extra hours are supposed to be paid.
Other Minicom officials have been in the limelight recently over the multi-billion fuel procurement deal from a Kenyan firm, Dalbit Petroleum Limited.
The ministry’s Director of Planning Felicien Murenzi in April last year reportedly requested the Central Bank to process payment for 10 million litres of fuel to Dalbit, instead of 4 million litres, which the Kenyan firm had delivered.
Other officials also under probe over the alleged irregularities are Commerce, Minister Protais Mitali, SG, chairman of the internal tender committee, Felicien Murenzi, and the in-charge of petroleum transactions, Robert Opirah.