The General Assembly of the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday adopted the relevance of draft organic private member’s bill determining modalities for information gathering on and oversight of government action.
The bill will pave the way for adequate oversight of Government programmes and improved management of public affairs.
The draft organic private member’s bill in question determines the procedures by which Parliament obtains information and exercises oversight over Government activities.
It was introduced by a group of 5 MPs including the Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies in charge of Government Oversight and Legislation, Muhakwa Valens, Munyaneza Omar, NYIRABEGA Eutalie and Mukabalisa Germaine.
Unlike the currently applicable Organic Law, the new organic bill will provide legislators with modalities to conduct preventive oversight instead of simply monitoring Government activities.
Edda MUKABAGWIZA, Deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, said that this would help to promote transparency and accountability, especially in the use of public finances and resources.
Deputy Speaker Mukabagwiza said: "Preventive oversight gives us the power to control damages ahead of time, even before the Auditor General presents his reports raising concerns of mismanagement and delayed contracts. This will avoid unnecessary litigations. It’s unfortunate that we have had these issues but it is not too late to mitigate damages."
The General Assembly of Chamber of Deputies welcomed the bill and expressed the need to expedite its scrutiny and adoption.
MP Senani Benoit said: "I thank this group for coming up with this draft organic private member’s bill. I hope it will be expedited and passed to serve the intended purpose."
MP Izabiliza Marie Mediatrice sai: "Most of the queries that have constantly been reflected in the Auditor General’s report, which are well known to the Public Accounts Committee and Parliamentary standing committees on Budge will be solved. The recurring queries may be solved once and for all. I particularly thank the group of legislators that came up with this bill."
At no point does the currently applicable Organic Law make mention of modalities for the development of a plan for information gathering on and oversight of Government action, whether annual, quarterly, monthly or weekly, neither does it provide modalities for initiation of information gathering on and oversight of Government action, criteria for drafting a question to put to a member of Government and grounds for inadmissibility of a question.
These and many other questions could be answered by the draft organic law as explained by Deputy Speaker Mukabagwiza
She said: "I think this will help all arms of governments. That’s why we called it Preventive oversight. It will prevent other issues that may not be identified by the Parliament."
Knowing and monitoring the activities of the government is one of the responsibilities of the legislature.
In 2018, when President Paul Kagame received the oaths of office of the members of the House of Representatives, he called on them to step up their oversight efforts, stressing that the time has come to hold accountable those who misuse public funds for personal gains.
"During your citizen outreaches, you should always ask the electorate if the Government has fulfilled its mandate. That’s your job. You must fulfil that duty. I want us to improve on oversight especially for those responsible for developing our country and addressing the needs of Rwanda. In so doing we will find out if it is being done properly and hold to account those who fall short of their duties and responsibilities," President Kagame said.
Organic Law N° 03/2005 of 25/02/2005 determining the methods the Parliament uses to obtain information and exercises oversight of Government action remains the only tool available to Parliament to perform its function of information gathering on and oversight of Government action.
The Organic Law in question has been in effect for fifteen (15) years now, and the parliament believes that there are sufficient grounds to amend it, most notably the need not just to bring it into line with the Constitution of the Republic of Rwanda of 2003 revised in 2015, but also to address loopholes existing therein that have long been a barrier for adequate oversight of Government programmes and improved management of public affairs.