13 November 2012

Rwanda: Civil Servants Families Get Green Light to Do Business With Govt

Children and spouses of senior public servants could soon do business with government if Parliament amends provisions in articles 14 and 15 of the code of conduct for senior civil servants.

The bill proposing the amendment of the legislation was on Monday tabled before Parliament by the Minister in the Office of the President, Venetia Tugireyezu.

"Initially, there were fears of conflict of interest. We strengthened institutions to deal with that," Tugireyezu told The New Times in an interview shortly after tabling the amended bill.

She added that the bottom-line is to have leaders whose degree of integrity is beyond reproach.

The minister told the House that government was amending the law as it infringes on the rights of immediate family members of senior government officials.

"The law is being amended to bring it in tandem with the current trends...remove ambiguities and make it up to date," she said.

"This prohibition derails investment and infringes on people's rights in case they were practising or intending to practise commercial activities prior to the appointments. This draft organic law aims at resolving such a defect," the minister told lawmakers.

Other amendments are contained in article 17 which prohibits leaders from taking up positions in associations and non-governmental organisations.

"We have the Ombudsman Office, National Prosecuting Authority and legal systems have been strengthened to sort out any malpractice," the minister said.

She told Parliament that article 3 of the 2008 act was making it difficult to implement, as the terms in the article are ambiguous.

The article says a leader should not be a 'rubberstamp, careless person and opportunist.'

"To lock out immediate family members of leaders out of business is unjust. It should not be allowed to continue," MP Theobald Mporanyi commented.

Majority of senior civil servants The New Times talked to though preferring not to be named say by having the law amended government is acting progressively.

Analysts however, warned against watering down the laws that have made it difficult for corruption to flourish, saying the country has been served well through a tight legal system.

Apart from the supreme leaders of the nation, other officials bound by the code of conduct include cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament, judges of the Supreme Court and other officials appointed by a Presidential Order or a Prime Minister's Order up to the level of Director General, as well as other employees falling in the same category.

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