Lawmakers have called the recruitment process for public servants questionable. They did so last week after the Public Service Commission, an oversight institution in recruitment and management of public servants, presented it 2011/2012 report to both chambers of parliament.
The PSC's activities include recruitment oversight, audit of the implementation of Public Service laws, and resolution of conflicts between managers and employees.
In 2012, the commission analyzed 208 job recruitment reports from 96 public institutions, which brought to light irregularities like the published marks for applicants being different from the ones provided by the examiners; candidates succeeding for positions but not hired; and the issue of foreign candidates applying for public service jobs. There were also a considerable number of institutions which didn't provide any report.
The MPs were, to say the least, not satisfied with what they heard. "The problem lies in your so-called mechanisms of monitoring the process. For instance, the system of recording interviews: while you recommend that they be recorded, at the same time the jury gives its marks in secret, which, in my view, gives them the opportunity to be as biased as they want," observed MP Charles Kamanda, who argued that everything in the process has to be transparent.
Kamanda's view was echoed by Suzanne Mukayijore, who added that the PSC's monitoring ineffectiveness is reflected in the fact that some individuals are hired without competing, while others pass the selection process successfully yet they are not withheld.
Last year, the Commission received 847 appeals. 368 were transferred to relevant institutions for resolution at the first level of appeal. "We handled 445 satisfactorily after examining and investigating them. 150 of them were related to the recruitment process, of which 77 were founded," said Francois Habiyakare, the chairman of PSC's board of commissioners
Another worrying element in the recruitment process is that after individuals are hired, some are not able to present certified degrees of their education. "They just have 'to whom it may concern' papers from their universities," PSC's head confirmed.
"These days we are seeing public servants being fired and even arrested due to forged documents. This issue has to be considered which much care," retorted MP Mukayijore.
For Agnes Mukazibera, those without official certificates should not be considered, unless there is tangible evidence that they did the studies they pretend to have done. She added that PSC should explain how people can be recruited without a valid diploma.
"Due to such irregularities in the recruitment process, our institutions are hiring incompetent and unqualified individuals, while those who meet all the requirements are ignored," she sneered.
Recently, at Mugonero Hospital (Kirehe) five employees were arrested for using fake certificates to serve as general practitioners. At the same time, 11 suspects in a similar case are being followed by the police in Rusizi.
Foreigners in public jobs
The commission also pointed out that sometimes foreigners are recruited while public sector jobs should normally be occupied only by Rwandans.
"We hire foreigners who are experienced in a certain field, and we'll keep on hiring them until there are Rwandans who can do the job and be as effective as those foreigners," said Anne Mugabo, the director of general employment at MIFOTRA.
The assessment of the recruitment reports also provided information on the problem of inadequacy between existing skills and needed skills in public service, as shown by the difference in the number of candidates shortlisted for a test and those who succeed.
Last year, 2,134 vacant jobs were available in the public sector for which 64,314 interested candidates applied. 44,080 then participated in the examinations, but only 3,797 (8.6%) passed. Among those, 2,137 already had a job, while the other 1,659 were added to databases for possible future recruitment.
MP Emmanuel Mudidi expressed his concern about the figures. "These numbers are alarming. Does it depend on the skills? Or vacant jobs? And how is it possible that some of those who pass, once on the job, prove themselves to be incompetent?"
Constance Mukayuhi, the head of the budget committee of the parliament, said that the numbers show a contradiction compared to performance assessment. "We noticed that some of them, especially finance managers, don't know their duties, and it takes them years to learn about finance software."
For once, it seems, the MPs have their finger on the pulse of the population when it comes to being dissatisfied with the recruitment process for public servants. According to PSC's executive secretary Angelina Muganza, the 'Citizen satisfaction survey on recruitment procedures in public service" has shown that 63.1 % of Rwandans are satisfied with the process.
"The number is still low," she admitted.