When not all are equal before the law

Whoever first proposed that Government/Public employees should be governed by different laws/statutes must be a product of Iringaniza, the system in the first two Republics in Rwanda until 1994 when Education and Employment opportunities were based on one’s ethnicity!

Whoever first proposed that Government/Public employees should be governed by different laws/statutes must be a product of Iringaniza, the system in the first two Republics in Rwanda until 1994 when Education and Employment opportunities were based on one’s ethnicity!

The system was institutionalized apartheid but in name. In Rwanda, there are Government employees who are governed by the general statute and those that are governed by “special” statutes. The would-be rationale is that employees working/for Institutions/organizations/authorities that are governed by special statutes work in an environment that is tempting and susceptible to corruption.

Therefore, they need different conditions and terms of service. These organizations also generate their incomes so as not to go to the Ministry of Finance to finance their activities.

The purported rationale above would have had a lot of meaning if these authorities/Institutions were teams of highly skilled Rwandans who because of the nature and possible results of what they do, significant benefits to the people of Rwanda and possibly Humanity will be realized.

For example;  a team of highly skilled people involved in import substitution, particularly imported consultancy services, where the Government and the nation at large spend substantial amounts of our scarce foreign currency on foreign expertise; a team  of highly skilled personnel carrying out research on  national/international social, economic, IT or health/medical issues whose breakthrough could better the nation and humanity in general ; a group of Rwandans involved in activities whose products or services diversify the country’s export portfolio particularly the hitherto unexplored exports or group of highly trained and specialized soldiers.

The truth, however, is that these are organizations whose employees  do what other public servants do or even less in terms of productivity.

In one such organization, a fresh graduate officer with a BA in something from one of Rwanda’s Universities, with no experience, and needs “formation” from somewhere in Europe or America, is paid a monthly salary equivalent to the monthly salary of three Directors in a Government Ministry minus the fringe benefits or three Junior Lecturers in a Public University or five officers at the same level in a ministry or six army Captains or twenty three primary school Teachers.

 Not that these people undertake specialized or risky assignments; it is simply that the Institution they work for is governed by “special” statutes.

It is neither that these people have special skills that average Rwandans do not have; many of them fail in competitive job acquisitions and end up there. What is interesting is that the Organization does not advertise vacancies for all Rwandans to compete for jobs as a government body but it recruits in secrecy like the Nazi Gestapo. 

It looks like the boss or junior bosses tell relatives, in-laws and friends and the vacancy is filled; interviews not being part of the recruitment process to ascertain the recruits’ abilities which  may explain all the trainings that those people later undergo.

The bluff that this Institution/Organization/Authority generates its income is a fallacy because what they do is done on behalf of the Government of Rwanda which acts on behalf of all Rwandans.

And more so, its income is levied on Rwandans and (hear this) operates from a building owned by Rwandans held in trustee by the government.

In reality, the people who should be treated under special statutes are the men and women in the armed forces for two reasons: they keep custody of instruments of death and do not hesitate to put their lives in the line of fire for the love of their people and nation.

In other words, while you and I are sleeping in the comfort of our homes, other Rwandans are working not the statutory eight or nine hours a day but at times twenty hours a day or more.  

The separation of Public employees on the basis of which organization they work for does not make sense when critically examined.

Many Public employees in positions in ministries and Government Agencies carry more responsibilities, and the concomitant temptations would make those in organizations with special statutes look like child play.

Which position does not have areas of temptations to indulge in corruption apart from that of Teachers who may not steal bars of chalk? But even then, remember they handle your child in its formative years and the impact of their acts may be life-long on it. What is more tempting than carrying a gun while starving and unsure where the next meal will come from? 

What the policy of several laws for employees working in similar positions for the same Government may cause is “anarchy” in the Public service.

Many of us think of anarchy as a “period of public disorder” or strife but the question is when does disorder turn into full grown anarchy? Like cancer, anarchy starts like a small tumour and finally spreads over other parts of the body.

In some of the most corrupt countries, corruption starts as small acts of flouting the rules and regulations or demanding something small and later it becomes mandatory.

No amount of prosecution can stop corruption when it blossoms because it is a result of moral decay; an affliction of the mind. 

People working for the Public service in addition to the pay-check at the end of the month should be motivated by belief in a public spirit. This is the belief and feeling that one is offering a service for the general good of fellow citizens and development of his country. 

Medical Doctors used to take an oath of service where saving lives took priority over anything and anyone. And I guess Public servants should be governed by the same principle; service to the motherland takes priority over anything and anyone. 

Teachers for example, used to take pride in the number of pupils / students he/she taught and passed examinations.

It was a source of pride for the Teacher to say, “All my students passed with distinctions”. But such words hardly come when the salary of the two people is juxtaposed as the example above may show.

It is comparable to a home where children are given unequal attention for whatever reason: it causes bad blood and will cause disharmony or disorder in the home.

Preferential treatment of some employees will cause disharmony and later cause anarchy in public service.
Whoever is in position to do something about it should help create a uniform public service that treats all Rwandans equally before the law by applying the same standards.

Email: ekaba2002@yahoo.com