February 22, 2021

Former Burgomasters Still Waiting for Their Payment 20 Years Later

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All districts of northern province have cleared the due payments for former Burgomasters, except Burera district

A group of former local leaders from northern Rwanda under the old administrative structure, known at the time as Burgomasters, have not been paid some their legal packages nearly 20 years later.

Four former Burgomasters from the five communes which were merged into the current border district of Burera, were as par the laws in place, supposed to be allocated an annual pay in addition to the salaries they were earning.

Since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda has reformed the territorial administrative system twice. Up until 2001, and before 1994, Rwanda was divided up into prefectures, sous-prefectures and communes.

In 2001, those communes where turned into 106 districts, and under nine (9) prefectures. Then another reform was introduced in 2006, whereby the country was divided into 4 provinces (Intara) and Kigali, 30 districts (uturere), 416 sectors (imirenge), 2,148 cells (utugari) and 14,837 villages (imudungu).

Under the pre-2001 structure, commune leaders were called Burgomasters. Three legal instruments obliged government to pay these Burgomasters an annual pay of Rwf 392.796. This was in addition to their small monthly salary and other benefits.

The benefits are detailed in Local government Law No 35/75 of 21/10/1975, amendment law No 04/79 of 15/02/1979 and amendment law No 17/80 of 04/11/2000.

All people who were Burgomasters between 1995 under the government of national unity, to 2001, were entitled to the above cited amount every year, as addition to their meager monthly pay. So the state owes them annual pay for a total of five years.

However, while former Burgomasters of other regions have been cleared, those who worked in the four of five communes which were merged to constitute the current Burera district, have been paid theirs.

They are Hanezerwabake Christophe for Nkumba commune, Sharamanzi Alphonse for Cyeru commune, Nkuriyingoma Evariste Nyamugali commune, and Byiringiro Siméon for Kidaho commune.

According to these four, one of their colleagues, Rutabayiro Etienne of Butaro commune, was surprisingly paid his money, while others have not yet.

The four still waiting for the legal payment, petitioned the Office of the Ombudsperson, in August last year. As press time, no action had been taken.

Speaking to The Chronicles, one of them said they have written countless letters to Burera district, which has their money, like other districts did, but all remain unanswered. Yet, their colleagues from other regions were paid their money by their districts. It is also disturbing to them, that one of the regional mates, has been cleared, but not them.

In other words, each of the four is supposed to be paid a total of Rwf 1,963,980.

In a separate but related issue, three of the above former Burgomasters appear in another petition also filed with the Office of the Ombudsperson, also pleading for their severance pay. This particular petition has 13 names.

When the communes became districts in 2001, those in charge were called mayors. Some Burgomasters were indeed selected to be mayors. However, more reforms led to many of them being replaced in subsequent years.

These 13 former district mayors say, as par existing laws, they were entitled to a severance pay of a percentage of their former salaries for six months after removal from office. A mayor was earning a monthly gross salary of Rwf 479.088.

It means, the 13 affected should have continued to earn about 70% of their former salary excluding things like housing and office expenses.

These, in addition to the Office of the Ombudsperson, they have also sent their complaint to the Office of the President in letter received August 24, last year.

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