Recent press reports, quoting the Governor of Western Province Celestin Kabahizi, indicated that the re-evaluation of local government employees in Rubavu, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts in the Province will start in two weeks’ time ( with effect from January 25th ).
It was reported that the exercise was in response to complaints by employees of irregularities in employee performance evaluations carried out last year.
The exercise covered a period of three years for those who had been in service for the period whereby the total for the three years was summed up and an average found; and for those with less than one year in service the performance of six months formed the basis of evaluation.
The results in performance evaluations were used to decide those who would be retained in their positions, those who would be deployed in other positions of similar or lower rank and those whose positions would be declared vacant and the job holder given the boot due to poor performance.
The complaints against the process and conduct of performance evaluations in the Western Province are not new having surfaced during and after the exercise in July.
According to the Governor, “We are going to reinstate those that were unlawfully dismissed and those occupying their offices will be fired since they occupy those offices illegally.” Talk about digging a pit to fill a pit.
The guidelines sent by MIFOTRA (Ministry of Public Service and Labour) to local government authorities clearly stipulated that as the role of the Governor as Mayors were required to send a report of the evaluation results and minutes of the deliberations of the District Advisory Council meetings that considered the results.
When results of the evaluation exercises came out Governors got reports of these results.
Indeed there were written and verbal complaints on part of these results and one wonders why it took this long for the powers that be to listen to these complaints and appeals. The Governor must have blessed these results.
New employees who were recruited by competent local authorities cannot be “occupying their offices illegally” and firing them is illegal and the governor should be prepared to receive their appeals for wrongful dismissal should he go ahead with his promise to “fire” them.
The governor should have attended to the appeals of the concerned employees before authorizing districts to and “fire” them and hire new others.
The NEW TIMES quoted the Mayor of Ngororero district, Gedeon Ruboneza, saying that “we are prepared to receive the panel, and we don’t have any problem about the Governor’s idea of reinstating those who were fired unfairly.”
The most interesting comment came from the Mayor of Rubavu District Pierre Celestin Twagirayezu.
The Mayor promised to “discuss with the Governor and his panel, frankly speaking it is not simple however it is not entirely impossible.”
The Mayor has been, in the past, obstinately opposed to a review of the performance evaluations of employees in his district despite the fact that there were numerous complaints in it.
The Mayor of Rubavu, going by reports of affected employees, has reason to ‘talk’ to the governor.
It is reported that with appeals from 19 employees disputing the results of their performance evaluations and without the resolution of the District Advisory Committee, the Mayor forwarded the results to the governor for approval.
The evaluation committee was accused of revising results of previous years downwards so that certain employees could get low marks to the point that they could not be considered poor performers.
In other cases people who headed the best performing departments, with prizes to show for it, were declared poor performers and thrown out. Many employees did not get the opportunity to sign their performance evaluation forms.
Whereas behaviour accounted for a certain part, many employees were termed non performers on basis of unsubstantiated rumours about their private lives, for example, that they had extramarital affairs.
Reports indicate that in Ngororero district, the Executive Committee, on the eve of a court judgment in hearing of a criminal case involving two thirds of the committee, took all the employee performance evaluation forms to a hotel and for a couple of days did what they did.
The day after the performance evaluations, the Mayor was in court while his Vice had run away from the country. The committee blamed some district employees for reporting the case of abuse of office and all employees suspected were given performance ratings that saw them out of employment as poor performers.
There was no consideration of evaluation of previous years.
Whereas performance evaluation is supposed to lead to an agreed position but the evaluated employee and his superior or evaluation panel in many cases the district mayors simply awarded performance marks depending on “their feelings” about an individual without considering his/her performance and in many cases employees did not have an input in their performance evaluation.
The end result was that many employees lost their jobs while others retained or were employed based on how they related to the mayors.
According to Rubavu Mayor, the revaluation exercise “is not simple, however, it is not entirely impossible.” The mayor should put himself in the shoes of those who were denied a source of livelihood for themselves and their families and decide whether that life is simpler than a panel sitting and correcting the ills he and his group created.
To whoever decided to re-evaluate the performance of local government employees in the Western province, thank you! You have given many people and their families reason to smile and hope. One can only hope that the panel will get to the root of the problem.