On Wednesday September 12, Taarifa published a special report titled “How Kampeta Sayinzoga Is Killing NIRDA”.
In the story, we reported that recruitment at NIRDA is one of the most abused procedures in this public agency which has cost the taxpayers an enormous loss that will take years to fix.
NIRDA stands for National Industrial Research and Development Agency; an institution established in 2013 with a mission to enable a generation of industrial innovators to become competitive through technology monitoring, acquisition, development and transfer and applied research.
It aims to infuse technology into Rwandan industries and introduce the 4th industrial revolution to them through cutting edge product development.
In the article we reported that since the appointment in September 2017 of the new Director General, Pitchette Kampeta Sayinzoga, a former Director of Cabinet in the Office of the Prime Minister, the atmosphere in this scientific institution can be described as a time bomb waiting to explode any time stemming from abuse of recruitment and procurement procedures contrary to prevailing laws in public service.
This, we reported, was a result of her effort to introduce a new structure for the agency.
Following access to additional information, Taarifa has established that many of her actions reported were taken out of context.
Kampeta agreed to share inside facts from the perspective of the institution’s mandate and ongoing reforms.
“First, we need to realise that NIRDA has a new mandate in line with the government’s National Strategy for Transformation and my responsibility is to implement this mandate not just to keep the status quo,” she said, adding that, “his requires a major shake-up.”
“These reforms are done in line with the Rwandan framework for restructuring but also require some level of transparent head-hunting,” she said.
“Looking at the nature of this new ambitious mandate, we have to look for the right skills, the right minds and people with the best qualifications to assist us to implement our reform agenda, this will indeed require many rare and specialized skills,” Kampeta explained.
These, therefore, prompted NIRDA to embark on a talent search in Rwanda and more globally to identify candidates with the skills required and interest them to apply to join NIRDA.
Kampeta confirmed that only two experts have been recruited by NIRDA and not 16 as previously reported.
“They were identified purely based on their rare skills,” said Kampeta.
Taarifa reported that one of the experts had been hired through unlawful procedures and offered exorbitant benefits.
Kampeta insisted that recruitment of these experts received approvals from MIFOTRA, Public Service Commission and their salary package was approved by MINECOFIN.
She has also shared the documentation of the process as it unfolded.
Notably, the type of work done by these experts recruited as contractual staff, we have been told, “requires a deep understanding of the integration and domestication of 4th industrial revolution technologies for Rwandan industries.”
According to Kampeta, “One of the experts has specific previous experience from Google and in mentoring startups in the field of Artificial Intelligence.”
The government of Rwanda has always recruited experts with rare skills and paid them according to their level of expertise as contractual staff.
“We cannot currently find in public service someone who has this type of expertise, this is why we contracted an expert to lead the STEM Lab program development phase,” Kampeta said.
Regarding local staff
Kampeta has held at least two meetings with department staff, two general staff meetings and one general staff meeting in presence of the NIRDA’s Board of Directors to discuss the new Strategic Plan and new restructuring.
The objective of the reform was not to “sack the entire existing staff” but rather to align skills to the new requirements of the strategy.
The new structure mentioned by the Article was approved by Cabinet on July 11th 2018 and no recruitment has taken place since, as existing staff must first be placed with MIFOTRA’s blessings.
We reported that in one of the meetings, she said 90% of staff would be kicked out and re-do examinations.
“That is false,” she said, as a large number will remain but in different positions. ”
She confirmed that recruitment would be done in three batches and that all new staff would be in place as soon as possible and all Heads of Department and Division Managers will be appointed by Cabinet by the appointing authority not herself.
However, our sources had said that some jobs had been occupied already before they are advertised.
She refuted it and said that the staff in question are contractual staff of UNIDO and are only at NIRDA to provide technical support her team.
They are not employees of NIRDA but they were hired to support NIRDA to implement the new NIRDA flagship program called “open calls” aimed at supporting technology acquisition for the banana wine and garments value chains.
They therefore interface regularly with NIRDA’s stakeholders and provide continuous services on behalf of NIRDA.
Kampeta said all the allegations are cooked and spread by “disgruntled staff”.
Apparently NIRDA has not recruited any public servant this fiscal year, apart from an accountant deployed by MMIFOTRA.