EAC top jobs open Rwanda, Uganda power struggle

Monday August 17 2020

Competing interests from Uganda and Rwanda have stalled the recruitment for EAC plum jobs, some of which have remained vacant since 2018 and worsened staff shortages. FILE | NMG


The pending recruitment of senior EAC staff has led to discord on hiring, as member states seek to tilt the scales in favour of their preferred candidates.

The EastAfrican has seen separate correspondence by Uganda and Rwanda directing EAC secretary-general Liberat Mfumukeko on how to fill more than 40 senior positions, including those of directors, principal officers, IT specialists, human resource officers, accountants and researchers.

The competing interests have stalled recruitment for the jobs, some of which have remained vacant since 2018, worsening a staff shortage at the secretariat.

“There are a number of established positions with budgetary provisions within the EAC organs and institutions that are vacant and require urgent recruitment to ensure seamless operations of the community. Filling of these critical positions is now necessary to avert a staffing crisis in the organs and institutions,” said Mr Mfumukeko in a letter addressed to the chair of the EAC Council of Ministers, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta.

Senior EAC jobs come with attractive perks and tax exemptions making them important for political jockeying in the partner states’ capitals.

Differing points of view


While Rwanda wants the EAC secretariat to revive a botched 2018 recruitment for the same positions, Uganda is calling for fresh recruitment and interviews for advertised vacancies.

“Following the report of the shortlisting exercise for the positions under the EAC Secretariat, East African Court of Justice, EAC Competition Authority and the East African Health and Research Commission, which was conducted in January 2018, some of the recently advertised positions were already published and shortlisting exercises concluded,” said Clementine Mukeka, Rwanda’s permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, in a letter to Mr Mfumukeko opposing the fresh advertisement for the jobs, published on July 9.

The advertisement stated that recruitment would be concluded on August 21.

Rwanda wants the EAC to recruit the candidates who were shortlisted but have not been hired, saying this will save costs and avoid litigation from job seekers who were already informed of their selection and were only awaiting interviews.

“I would like to request you to be prudent and rational for the Community not to re-advertise the positions for which the recruitment process was concluded at the level of shortlisting, rather to proceed with interviews for the shortlisted candidates especially as there is no expiry period in EAC staff rules and regulations,” said Mr Mfumukeko.

“For the remaining positions, the process should continue as planned.”

Uganda’s permanent secretary in East African Community Affairs Edith Mwanje differs from her Rwandan counterpart in a separate letter addressed to the EAC Secretary-General.

She wants the recruitment to start afresh on the grounds that it has more than two years since the jobs were last advertised.

“Since the process was not completed and no job offer was made, there is no ground for litigation. Besides, the candidates are not barred from applying for the advertised jobs,” said Ms Mwanje.

“Therefore, the Secretariat should go ahead and expedite the recruitment process for the employment opportunities at the EAC organs and institutions published on July 9, 2020.”

She cites a number of changes that have taken place at the Secretariat to warrant fresh recruitment.

They include a “Workload Analysis and Job Evaluation”, which has had an impact on job and personnel specifications and merged some jobs thereby affecting the roles and responsibilities.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the EAC Council of Ministers directed that all recruitment of staff be carried out by the mandated Ad hoc Service Commission (ASC).

In a letter dated August 12, council chair Dr Biruta, directed that all staff recruitment must abide by the directive.

Recruitment process

“I would like to reiterate that all matters related to the recruitment processes and procedures of EAC Staff should be handled by the above mentioned EAC Ad-hoc Service Commission, and request the Secretariat to put a hold on the ongoing recruitments that do not abide by this directive,” said Dr Biruta.

In addition, the “Citizens of East Africa” group has written a petition to the Council of Ministers seeking to block the ongoing recruitment, citing gross irregularities.

The group, drawn from all the six partner states, has claims that the Secretariat has engaged in malpractices.

The petitioners accuse officials of soliciting bribes from applicants, communicating wrong dates to some shortlisted candidates, shredding applications, leaking interview questions, and altering marks to favour preferred job seekers, among other claims.

“Available records indicate that the EAC Secretariat has been at the centre of the machinations, manipulations and related underhand methods during the recruitment exercise,” said the petitioners in a letter to Dr Biruta.

The petition also proposes that the ASC committee should fill the positions.