April 18, 2019

New Kigali City Structure: Districts Lose Budgeting, Planning Role

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THE NEW WOMAN IN CHARGE: If the bill becomes law, the current City of Kigali Mayor Marie Chantal Rwakazina will wield immense powers and authority compared to her predecessors. She will have a full plate of responsibilities

Government is preparing to submit a draft bill to parliament that creates a centralized management system for the City of Kigali – different from the extensively decentralized system that has been around since 2002.

Cabinet approved the new structure in their session of April 3, as part of a package of changes that are going to radically change the way Rwanda’s capital operates.

At the moment, “City of Kigali” (CoK) is one of the five provinces making up Rwanda – managed by an elected Mayor. The mayor is assisted by a complex network of many officials spread across different levels.

The city is made up of three districts: Kicukiro, Nyarugenge and Gasabo – which are also broken up into sectors, cells and villages.

In the existing structure, each district has its own budgeting and planning system in which the Mayor and his District Council control nearly all aspects within their territory. They even had some roads which were under the district, and some that are under the City of Kigali administration.

In addition, the districts were required to submit just about 30% of the revenue they get from taxes to the City of Kigali.

The new bill takes away all budgeting, planning and political authority of the district, and transfers to the City of Kigali.

As a result, the Mayor of the district as we know them today, will no longer be elected. They will be appointed, and will be called ‘Chief District Administrator’ (CDA).

It means that the current District Mayors: Stephen Rwamulangwa (Gasabo), Kayisime Nzaramba (Nyarugenge) and Dr. Nyirahabimana Jeanne (Kicukiro) – are going to be called CDAs. That is if government submits the bill to parliament and the changes are OKeyed.

At the City of Kigali, a new role will be created “City Manager”, who will be the technocrat of the city, handling all budgeting and approvals.

In the current system, each district has a District Executive Secretary, who is the chief budget officer in charge of all finances and other administrative roles. These roles will be moved to the CoK City Manager.

Another major change is the reduction of the members of the CoK Council, which is made up of 33 individuals elected from a complicated system and others representing interest groups such as people with disabilities and private sector.

In the new bill, the Council will be reduced to 17. Among them, only 11 will be elected by the people. The other six will be appointed based on their status and professional background.

“The bill proposes that Councilors should be people with experience and skills in areas that can contribute to the city’s planning and development,” said Prof Anastase Shyaka, the Local Government Minister at a stakeholders meeting held yesterday.

Commenting on the restructuring of budgeting and planning from districts to the CoK, the Minister said: “There will be a single plan for the whole city. We will no longer have roads that belong to Kicukiro, Nyarugenge or Gasabo districts as has been the structure today. There will be one single authority at the city planning for all things that make up the city.”

The Mayor of CoK will have Deputy Mayors in charge of Social Affairs, Economic Development, and Housing and Infrastructure.

However, the CoK City Manager will be the accounting officer.

The election of the Mayor by Kigalians will also remain. The mayor is currently elected from a long process coming right from the village level. It is the colleges that emerge at different levels, which go on to elect the Mayor.

As the situation stands now, the draft law is only a bill. The process of approving laws in parliament is the same.

The new draft bill will be submitted to Parliament, and there will be a session in the House for the line-Minister to introduce the bill and explain its rationale to the MPs.

From the full Chamber of Deputies, it will be forwarded to the Committee level, which, after extensive review, will return with a report to the House on the way forward.

The Minister may be called several times to the committee or the House for explanations on the bill. Stakeholders will also be allowed to submit their views.

When the bill is passed by the MPs, it could be in any of the following forms: it passes without any changes, passes with minor changes, or passes with major changes.

However, the option of Parliament refusing a bill has not happened before, so it is unlikely to happen this time.

After it is passed, the draft law will be submitted to the President of the Republic, in this case President Paul Kagame, for his signature, and then it will become law.

Usually, laws take months or even more than a year from cabinet level to being a law after Presidential assent, but considering the urgency with which cabinet has brought the bill, it could be months and we have a new city management system.

However, even after it becomes law, either the President, or Prime Minister, or Local Government Minister will have to formulate other Orders which operationalise some aspects of the law.

For example, there will have to be Orders on how Chief District Administrator is appointed and what they can control or be held liable for in the City’s structures.

There will also have to be Order on how the City Manager does his/her job in relation to the Mayor and the Deputy Mayors.

Current CoK Mayor Marie Chantal Rwakazina said yesterday that the upcoming changes, if approved into law, will not in any way disrupt service delivery in the City of Kigali.

She added: “For all services that have been provided by the decentralized entities, the people in those specific areas have no reason to worry. They will actually get better services in the restructured system. No action that was taken by previous leaders will be postponed. Our objective is to deliver services quickly to the people of Kigali.”

CORRECTION: This story has been slightly modified. The Mayor of Nyarugenge district is Kayisime Nzaramba not Theophila Nyirahonora as reported earlier. We regret the error.

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