The Minister of Justice has cautioned legal advisors to take their job seriously to reduce the amount of money the government loses in poorly managed contracts, tenders and land disputes among other aspects prescribed in their job description.
The job description for Legal advisors in Rwanda is to prepare documents concerning litigation cases; interpret laws, instructions, regulations and procedures; monitor the implementation of applicable laws, instructions, regulations and procedures.
Justice Minister and State Attorney General, Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja said that it is unfortunate that the AG keeps on reporting about billions of Rwandan francs that are lost due to delayed/stalled projects, abandoned ones or idle assets purchased by government institutions.
All these happen and become losses of public resources resulting from poor contract management. For instance, the OAG report of the Year ended 30th June 2021 showed 37 cases of delayed contracts worth Rwf 201 billion in 28 public entities and projects had 25 delayed contracts worth Rwf 89.9 billion identified and 12 contracts worth Rwf 111 billion from previous audits and delays were up to six years.
This resulted in increased cost of Government projects and lack of value for money which adversely affects service delivery to citizens.
The report states that the number of contracts that have been abandoned is on the rise compared to the last 3 years with 8 cases of abandoned contracts worth Rwf965 million, with 11 stalled projects worth 102,9billion identified in nine (9) entities and 88 cases of idle assets worth Rwf 37.2 billion identified in 49 public institutions.
“Contracts must pass through the hands of legal advisors and that is why we are asking for them to take a high level of responsibility in their work because this has implications to the economy and citizens welfare,” Ugirashebuja said September 28, 2022 while meeting with legal advisors from all government institutions.
Ugirashebuja said that these losses can be avoided if the legal advisors act with independence, integrity, and impartiality in legal advice and opinion even when this may be contrary to that of their superiors.
“This is about your career and it will follow you if you perform well or poorly,” Ugirashebuja said using his experience as a legal advisor, professor of law and also as Government advisor.
Another area where the government loses money (directly or indirectly) is in land management and land related cases in courts and thus a review of the land law which required the role of legal advisers in guiding policy on land use and management.
The Ministry and the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA) also gave legal advisors tips on the changes in the use and management of land in the new Law N° 27/2021 of 10/06/2021 governing land and its implementing Orders to ensure proper implementation.
Francine Uwase, Land Registration Officer said that the new law now requires alternative out-of- court resolutions on land related disputes, and the legal advisors should be aware of the changes.