The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: PSC Boss Faults Employers for Overseeing Incompetent Staff

Incompetence by some employees in public services is due to failure by the employing entities to provide on-the-job training and skills development, the chairperson Public Service Commission, has said.

Francois Habiyakare told The New Times during a recent exclusive interview that incompetence among some civil servants cannot be blamed on individual employees but on the failure by employers to help workers sharpen their skills.

"Employees may be given a task for which they have no training or experience and end up delivering poor quality work. The managers of institutions should also take the blame for incompetence of their employees. Labour laws require an employer to adhere to certain principles and guidelines in management operations," he said.

Habiyakare's remarks follow recent cases where several public officials were accused of exhibiting high levels of incompetence in their work while appearing before the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

"The most effective way to deal with incompetence in civil service is to introduce an appropriate performance management system where employers carry out in-house training to improve the capacity of employees," he said.

The PSC chairperson said the commission is going to focus on streamlining recruitment procedures to ensure that cases of incompetence in public service are addressed.

"We have to streamline recruitment procedures. They have been in place but we want to make them more efficient," Habiyakare said.

According to the Auditor-General's report for the 2011/2012 fiscal year, many of the errors committed in public service were due to incompetence.

Habiyakare said some employees in public bodies are ineffective due to failure by the employers to draw up proper job descriptions, set performance standards and evaluation mechanisms to give workers room to improve their performance.

"Training in schools is not enough, internal trainings and experience is required to address the challenge of incompetency," he said.

"We will investigate the circumstances under which 'incompetent' civil servants get jobs in public service. We will not do it this year because we have so many things to work on, we hope next year it will be an appropriate time for us."

Training public servants

The PSC boss, however, stated that it is the agency's duty to follow up on the cases of incompetence in public service and make recommendations to parliament.

"We can investigate when the (PAC) report is out. We can't just go to public institutions and single out officials presumed to be incompetent before we get the report," Habiyakare added.

The government created Rwanda Management Institute (RMI) to train civil servants, private sector and the civil society in matters relating to administration and management.

Previously known Rwanda Institute of Administration and Management (Riam), the institution is mandated to train public servants in matters related to administration and management skills and techniques.

"Our primary focus is to provide capacity building to the public and private sectors and civil society. RMI is not an academic institution; we offer orientation courses and training for people who are on the job," said Wellars Gasamagera, the director-general of RMI.

"After establishing an appropriate competence framework after a comprehensive survey on the required skills for different job positions and job holders' profiles, we determine training needs by addressing identified skills gaps."

Gasamagera said the institution was in position to develop customised training courses that respond directly to identified gaps in the public service.

"Our training can also be delivered at the workplace in the form of coaching sessions (training clinics).These training sessions are sanctioned by the award of completion certificates," he added.

Cabinet recently approved two draft laws aimed at improving efficiency in the public service.

The draft law determining the organisation and functioning of the Public Service Commission and another on Rwanda Public Service will replace the existing ones enacted in 2008.

The legislation defines terms of emoluments of public servants, promotions and demotions or dismissal from work

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