Recently, a sector Executive Secretary in Musanze District told Kigali Today reporter that he could talk to him, only on condition that his names were not published.
“We thought you (media) had heard of this development. When we were at the leader’s camp in Nkumba, we were deprived of the authority to provide information again. From now on, you will get all information from district mayors, period,” he said then.
The local leader told the reporter not to call him again as he was afraid of the repercussions that can come with disobeying the directive from the ministry.
Appearing before the Chamber of Deputies February 6,2024, to respond to reported concerns of poor service delivery, abuse of citizens and bad conduct by local leaders, MInister of Local Government Jean Claude Musabyimana was requested to give clarification on this instruction.
It all started from a question he was asked by MP Frank Habineza.
“We have heard complaints that your ministry stopped local leaders from giving interviews to the media and local leaders also not allowing citizens to speak to the media about the poor services,” Habineza said.
Habineza explained that this ends up with local leaders not knowing issues within the community and citizens’ failure to speak out on issues of concern.
“The result is that the issues you (ministry) would have known are not disclosed and leaders don’t tell the truth, and this ends up affecting the government’s decentralization targets,” Habineza said.
Habineza asked the minister to explain the origins of this issue and if it has an impact on the growing citizen’s complaints, understanding the right information to solve their queries but also access to information.
The Local Government Minister, Jean Claude Musabyimana vehemently denied the source of the alleged directives, even when he agreed having seem the issue trending on social media.
“That is not true, I have never taken that decision from anywhere in Rwanda saying that leaders are not supposed to give out information,” Musabyimana said.
Musabyimana argued that this is false information and he was not at Nkumba where the alleged directives are said to have been delivered to local leaders.
“I cannot give explanations to this and I also heard of it on social media. Maybe the person who said it will tell us where it came from,” Musabyimana added.
Though the Minister denied the allegations some MPs connected the citizen’s complaints (which end up in the media) to parliament.
These include delays in getting proper services related to land, certificates among others either due to negligence, failure to inform service seekers, absence at work station and at most and to worst insulting citizens.
MP Beline Uwineza said that there are gaps in taking action among local leaders who offer bad services and some are transferred to other areas only to repeat the same mistakes.
MP Christine Mukabunani, among other MPs, showed that local leaders also have habits of not explaining to citizens the right information and to an extent that they don’t pick up citizen’s phone calls, let alone numbers from media and unknown persons.
Minister Musabyimana committed to parliament that the ministry will take serious measures and promised to fire and take punitive action on all local leaders who will be implicated in cases of bad conduct, poor service delivery, bribery and abusing citizens.
The minister also revealed that in order to reduce citizen’s complaints the ministry plans to construct more cell offices (58 more and 21 to be rehabilitated this year) and by next year all cell offices will be complete.
Musabyimana also stated that through Irembo platform, they are promoting the “Byikorere” (do it yourself) services where citizens don’t have to move to get services.
Musabyimana said that so far they have covered two provinces and 50 sectors with a plan to increase mobilizations and awareness which has grown from 20% to 40% to date, and expected to reach 70% by end of next year with a plan to work with 5,000 agents.
Musabyimana also revealed that all cells will get an additional employee to increase the number to three but also capacitate all officials with motorbikes by next year to resolve the issue of transport challenges which are affecting local leaders outreach their delivery.