Government employees in Rwanda have a permanent independent Commission established solely for their proper management and that is the Public Service Commission.
The Commission was established under the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda that was promulgated on 4th June 2003 under article 181.
The law Number 06/2007 of 01/02/2007 determines the organization and functioning of the Public Service Commission. The Commission commenced its operations in 2008.
The Public Service Commission is mandated by law to oversee the recruitment and appointment or recommend for appointment of public servants in central government, local and other public institutions; submit of names of candidates to the institutions concerned for employment, appointment and promotion through an appropriate system of recruitment of candidates which is objective, impartial, transparent and equitable for all; carry out research on the laws, regulations, Human Resource requirements, the terms of reference of posts and other matters relating to the management and development of human resources and advise the Government accordingly; submits to the organs concerned proposals on appropriate disciplinary actions against employees in accordance with the law in force and provides technical assistance to state organs and public enterprises governed by special statutes.
The Commission is neither a Trade Union nor an arm of the Ministry of Public Service and Labour but an independent body that does not in fact report to the Ministry but to Parliament.
The Management and personnel of the Commission are in fact prohibited from seeking or accepting instructions from persons or public officials from outside the Commission.
All government employees that are not appointed nor elected to office are under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission save for those who work on contract. In many East African countries Permanent Secretaries and employees below that rank are recruited, employed, deployed and transferred on the recommendation and or approval of their respective public service commissions.
In Rwanda the Public Service Commission authorized local government to recruit their employees in accordance with the Presidential Order governing recruitment employees into public service and guidelines set out by the Commission.
Local Authorities that recruit employees are required to send reports detailing the steps taken throughout the process to the Commission. In government Institutions the recruitment is carried out by the institutions themselves while the Public Service Commission retains the role of overseer.
There are employees in public institutions that, because of the nature of their work, do not operate under the General Statute that governs public employees and instead use “Special Statutes”.
The Commission is mandated to, upon request or at own initiative, to advise those public service institutions on any matters relating to its mandate.
The law also requires Public institutions to provide, on their own initiative or upon request, the Commission with the necessary information in order to fulfill its responsibilities.
The Commission is mandated to carry out research on issues that affect public service employees and propose measures, policies and strategies to improve public service.
Any aspiring employee in a public institution or decentralized local authorities who feels the process of recruitment has been compromised, unfair or not transparent has the right to appeal to the leadership of the institution which he applied to join in the first instance.
Of course many such cases happen; for example in one Institution the Director General who was recently transferred from another institution wanted to retain an employee he had worked with in the former institution as Director of Human Resources and Administration.
In face of stiff competition he reversed the decisions of the people who had done the selection process earlier and instead made a new list insisting that he wanted only candidates with first class degrees which condition had not been indicated in the call for applications and contravenes the Presidential Order governing recruitment into public service. That was wrong, Doctor!
The Public Service Commission organized seminars for Human Resources practitioners in public service nationwide including those in decentralized local governments and yet many Human Resources Directors and Managers continue to follow the instructions of their Directors General and take disciplinary action against employees, at times arbitrary, without regard to the law governing public servants while others do not know the difference between the General Statute governing public servants and the Labour Code and will take decisions basing on either.
Public institutions that take disciplinary actions against employees are required to seek the legal opinion of the Commission or inform it of any action taken against a public service employee.
The Commission then pronounces itself on the issue and proposes a disciplinary action in accordance with the laws and regulations governing public servants.
Public service employees who have exhausted the internal appeals procedures at their home institutions can appeal to the Public Service Commission for redress.
The Public Service Commission receives, investigates and gives legal opinion on appeals from public servants and public employers on the appropriate disciplinary actions against public servants.
Many employers do not appreciate the powers and duties of the Public service Commission, for example, many Directors general and other heads of government institutions demand that if the decision of the Commission favours an employee, then the Commission should find the employee work elsewhere to work and not in the institutions they lead.
It is a case of arm twisting the Commission. The Public Service Commission should advise Heads of institutions who reject its advice in regard to the disciplinary action against public servants to find employment elsewhere instead.
Of course the Public Service Commission faces many challenges, and not least that it is mandated by law to “submit to the organs concerned proposals on appropriate disciplinary actions” and although its decisions are based on the interpretation of the laws and its investigations, the law is not clear what happens when the “proposal” is rejected by a leader of an institution who uses his/her position to settle personal scores.
Indeed there are many employees who were thrown out employment against the advice of the Public Service Commission.
Public Servants should use the services of the Public Service Commission: its creation was premised on not only better public service but happier public servants.