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In the last one and a half decades, Rwandan citizens of all walks of life and indeed the entire world community who are objective enough have learnt a big practical lesson from Rwanda; that where there’s a political will, nothing is impossible.
Yes. After three years of painful armed liberation struggle, to which the brave and hard working ladies and gentlemen, young and old, had sacrificed their invaluable lives, the then MRND regime called for a Peace Pact, confronted by this visionary brevity and determination of the then RPA/F.
However, no sooner had an extremist faction in the regime learned that a peace deal had been concluded in Arusha, than they turned their cowardice to their boss, the late President Juveneral Habyarimana, summarizing his lifespan in a bizarre plane crash. What followed is a pitiful inhuman mayhem I spare for sociologists, psychologists and historians.
Indeed foreign delegates, research fellows and academicians have often honestly said the country’s progress over the past 18 years offers important lessons to the rest of the world. Such people have been, especially amazed at how this tiny African country has transformed itself into a model of economic development for other countries in the world. What an incredible development pace!
What remains as evidence, for even the negative critics is that due to clean leadership, foreign investors have been impressed and motivated by what has been achieved in Rwanda the last couple of years. I mean, the country has an institutional framework that favours domestic and foreign direct investment, political stability and a fast growing economy.
Rwanda’s progress on economic recovery within the last one decade is comparable to very few, if any African countries, especially on governance and anti-corruption crusade, such as Ghana, Lesotho and Malawi.
Therefore, Rwanda’s success story is not a miracle as insinuated by excited yet short sighted sections. The fact that the country is among the world’s “best doing business reformers” is based on the institutional framework mentioned above and focused political leadership.
The establishment of Rwanda Revenue Authority, Auditor General’s Office, National Tender Board that later changed to Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), Ombudsman’s Office and the Office of Public Prosecutions to mention but a few, has played a cardinal role in ensuring good governance and accountability.
This in fact, reminds the writer of the Chief of Defense Forces Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga’s inspiring observations in his late last year’s presentation titled: “Liberation: Foundation for Rwanda’s Destiny, Sovereignty and Development”.
The eloquent and learned freedom fighter defined liberation as a protracted effort or struggle to overcome impediments or obstacles to national security and development.
Yeah, liberation embraces many things; it is more than defeating armed enemies and taking over political power; it consists of addressing human concerns, the government’s ongoing efforts to liberate people from ignorance, poverty and diseases.
These human concerns, when not addressed, are actually the ones that constitute legitimate causes for conflicts, another liberation struggle-it becomes a vicious cycle of wars and endless deaths.
The foundation of all that has been achieved is RPF’s Eight-point program that includes rule of law, repatriating refugees and protecting the right to citizenship, uniting Rwandans, defending national sovereignty, building a corrupt-free society and governance based on democracy to mention but a few.
Moreover, I’m sure, this will remind many of President Kagame’s campaign strategy in 2010 when he was vying for the second term presidential elections.
For those who don’t remember, it was dubbed: “Imvugo niyo ngiro” loosely translated to mean that actions speak louder than words. That literally, winds up the past and present successes as well as the destiny for citizens of this tiny, beautiful state of a thousand hills.
As earlier indicated, unlike in the other four East African Community member states and the African continent at large, where the big fish have thrived deep in the pond of corruption with a high degree of impunity, the greedy will have nowhere to swim here in Rwanda. This on top of other clean credentials is why Rwanda has a good record globally.
According to analysts, the country’s home-grown solutions have led Rwanda to achieve significant results in the areas of justice, unity and reconciliation, economic growth, good governance, and partnerships with the global community. How else could hundreds of thousands genocide-related cases have been resolved other than the home grown natural justice –Gacaca option?
Turning the other side of the coin, in the interests of our readers and for purposes of diligence, Rwanda could do much better other than being regarded as ‘a one-eyed-man among the blind’.
Yes, there are challenges that require the leaders and everybody to revisit the present situation. This will strengthen the resolve to struggle on as well as influencing the next generation to carry on with the struggle for a better society.
Unlike, in most countries in the neighborhood, where the same promise of fighting corruption by the presidents and other politicians is repeated and yet the cancer continues to grow bigger, the watchdogs in Rwanda have shown progress.
The Auditor general’s reports have repeatedly shown irregularities on accountability. The Ombudsman’s annual reports have shown gaps on justice and governance and the RPPA has done the same excellently.
Have the alleged culprits been held accountable?
For the last five consecutive years the auditor general’s office has presented to parliament annual reports and revealed tens of billions of public funds unaccounted for by the relevant institutions.
The Ombudsman’s office and public procurement has done the same. In fact, the 2008 Auditor General Report stated that public institutions failed to account for more than 6.5 billion Rwanda francs (US$11.5 million), 8.7 billion Francs for 2009 report while the most recent one of 2010 which has been evaluated by the lawmakers shows a whooping Frw9.7 billion is reportedly unaccounted for.
Some tenders totaling 2.1 billion Rwanda francs (US$3.1 million), were awarded without providing evidence that they had been approved by competent internal tender committees. Interestingly, now the parliamentary public accounts committee has been blamed by fellow legislators saying they didn’t do a good job, failed to implicate specific government officials cited in embezzling public funds.
The other significant setback revealed by the lawmakers is that the Auditor General’s 2010 report covered only 105 out of 315 public institutions, leaving 210 including president’s office, the highest office of the land that had been allocated 60 billion! My humble belief is that it should have been among the priority organs to be evaluated to serve as an extemporary.
Without going into the details of what this or that institution has exposed, the bottom line is: have the suspects been diligently investigated, prosecuted and convicted or acquitted? Wouldn’t the over 30 billion Francs supplement and improve on the current government’s pro-poor programs like medical insurance and the anti-Nyakatsi scheme… if the culprits were held accountable?
It’s my humble belief that a true democracy cannot exist unless all citizens have a right to participate in the affairs of the polity of the country. One-sided information, disinformation, misinformation and non-information all equally create an uninformed citizenry, which makes democracy a farce when medium of information is monopolised either by a partisan central authority or by private individuals or oligarchic organisations.
Freedom of expression has four broad social purposes to serve: Helps an individual to attain self-fulfillment, assists in the discovery of truth, strengthens the capacity of an individual in participating in decision-making and provides a mechanism by which it is possible to establish a reasonable balance between stability and social change.
And I’m convinced that the press should play a crucial role on the anti-corruption crusade. Citizens’ right to know is derived from “freedom of speech and expression, access to information and free press” principle. The people have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way by public office holders.
Like the former Chief Ombudsman Mzee Tito Rutaremara once suggested, I think the naming and shaming of corrupt individuals in gazette notices and leading media outlets is a step in the right direction to undressing these wolves who don sheep skin yet they are economic mercenaries.
Contact author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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