Tagged: Central Africa

It Is Economic Development That Demonstrates Government’s Respect for Human Rights


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Analysis

by Richard KARUGARAMA Lebero

14/03/2014

On 7th April, Rwanda marks 20 years since the 1994 genocide. A lot has been written about Rwanda’s journey and, as is to be expected, much of the commentary is misleading, lacking sufficient understanding of the extent to which Rwanda has been transformed over the last 20 years.

This year’s theme – unite, remember and renew – aptly reminds us to commit ourselves towards ensuring that genocide never happens in any part of the world.

We also have the opportunity to reflect on Rwanda’s transformation and deliberate upon the lessons post conflict countries can draw from its resilience.

The narrative of Rwanda’s past is one of anger and pain. Starting from the colonial period and stretching up to the 1994 genocide,Rwanda was a deeply divided society entrenched with the scourge of ethnic politics and bad leadership.

Although the colonialists did not invent the Hutu and Tutsis ethnic identities (historically the labels existed), colonial intervention changed the meaning, practice and importance attached to these labels.

Following the 1994 genocide, modern Rwanda articulated and implemented a vision of co-existence between Hutus, Tutsis and Twa which emphasizes the virtues of being Rwandan.

The dividends from collective reconciliation and nation rebuilding have resulted in unprecedented social, economic and political transformation.

Rwanda’s rebirth is by all measures remarkable considering that for over five decades it was characterized by systemic governance failures, authoritarian rule, entrenched ethnic tensions, corruption and a spiral of extra judicial killings.

Indeed, the failure of state institutions to galvanise citizens into productive means of labour and the use of government structures as instruments of social disharmony, culminated in the horrors of 1994 and the loss of one million lives.

Twenty years after the genocide Rwanda is experiencing significant improvement in poverty levels, women and youth empowerment, transparency and accountability, democratic governance, respect for the rule of law and a profound mindset shift towards self-reliance.

The depth of reforms and the increasing levels of efficiency are well captured in numerous governance and business surveys conducted periodically by reputable institutions.

On the basis of the reforms, Rwanda ranks favorably across most indicators. For instance, in the 2014 World Bank ‘Doing Business Report’, Rwanda is ranked as the second most improved country in the world and the second easiest place to do business in Africa.

Despite evident improvement in social well being, modern Rwanda regularly witnesses unprecedented attacks – some commentators arguing that economic development has been achieved at the expense of human rights.

Historically, this type of commentary is not unprecedented and is well illustrated by the experience of Singapore – once accused of trading off human rights for economic prosperity.

But Singapore’s journey from third world to first world country demonstrates that the one size fit all approach to democracy and human rights barely makes a dent in the challenge of improving the material state of people’s lives.

As Professor Kishore Mahbubani correctly argues, economic development is the only force with the power to liberate the Third World. In essence, human rights can only be enjoyed when people are liberated from the scourge of hunger, insecurity, disease and poverty.

It is also too simplistic to argue that emerging countries such as Rwanda are advancing economically at the expense of human rights. The premise of this argument overlooks the fact that strides in economic development are intertwined with respect for human rights.

The two are not mutually exclusive as there can be no economic development without the respect and protection of fundamental freedoms.

The philosophical underpinning of human rights is both controversial and ambiguous because protection of fundamental rights means different things in different parts of the world.

The most recent Gallup poll best illustrates this point; it ranks Rwanda as the safest place to live in Africa with 92% of ordinary Rwandans feeling safe and secure. Additionally, the poll shows that among African countries, Rwanda is the safest place for women to flourish.

Even without the Gallup survey, Rwanda’s respect for gender equality is unprecedented – 64% of Rwanda’s parliament is constituted by women (the highest globally). Moreover, the Constitution stipulates that for all leadership positions, women must constitute a minimum of 30%.

The trust and confidence ordinary Rwandans place in state institutions to guarantee security, law and order extends to other important rights such as privacy, life and dignity which are cornerstones of human existence.

It is only through guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and a peaceful environment that people are able to freely exercise their right to dignity, privacy, life and freedom of expression.

Put succinctly, personal liberties do not operate in a vacuum – such rights are meaningless without a certain level of development. Indeed, over the last twenty years, modern Rwanda has strived to lift ordinary people out of poverty because only when people have been liberated from it can they fully enjoy personal liberties.

 

Source: African Arguments

Rwanda’s Twitter-Gate – the Disinformation Campaign of Africa’s Digital President


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Analysis

by Susan THOMPSON

17/03/2014

As Rwanda prepares to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 genocide, it has found itself in an unprecedented diplomatic crisis. The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has all but claimed responsibility for the murder of its former Spy Chief Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg in January.

More recently, the South African government has accused Rwandan diplomats of a third bungled attempt on the life of the country’s former army chief Kayumba Nyamwasa.

The State Department scolded the government of President Paul Kagame for the attempt. The South African government then expelled three Rwandan diplomats, and is considering ending formal diplomatic ties with Rwanda.

Foreign journalists reporting on the attack on Nyamwasa raised the ire of President Kagame. On March 7, Radio France International journalist Sonia Rolley was subject to misogynistic harassment from the account of @RichardGoldston. American freelancer Steve Terrill came to Rolley’s defense, resulting in a series of mocking tweets from the account of Rwanda president @PaulKagame himself, not the @RichardGoldston to which Terrill (@steveinafrica) had directed his Tweets.

A week later, on March 15, Terrill was denied entry into Rwanda. The denial appears politically-motivated as Terrill broke the story that someone in the office of the Rwandan president also had access to the @RichardGoldston account.

The @RichardGoldston account trolled Twitter for any sign of criticism of Kagame or the RPF, and regularly harassed and demeaned Twitter users that criticized the government.

On March 8, the official Twitter account of the Office of the Rwandan President (@UrugwiroVillage) tweeted that the @RichardGoldston account had been deleted and the staff member responsible for the account had been “reprimanded”.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate raises questions about the central role of RPF Twitter-trolls in calling out foreign journalists who seek to hold it to account for its excesses at home and abroad.

President Kagame’s reactionary tweets provide insight into the political reality behind his government’s carefully crafted narrative that Rwanda is a nation rehabilitated from the ruin of the 1994 genocide. Twitter-gate is also illustrative of the harassment and intimidation to which critics of the RPF regime regularly experience.

Twitter-gate is the first crack in the armor of the RPF’s longstanding disinformation campaign that has relied on Western exchange students, public relations firms, commemorative events, and a whole host of other techniques to craft an idealized and often invented version of what Rwanda was like before the onset of colonialism and what it has become since the 1994 genocide.

Since 2009, the RPF has worked with American and British PR specialists whose primary task is to drown out the voices of foreign critics and bury evidence of the RPF’s human rights abuses under rosy language about political stability, economic growth, and the stated intention of helping the poor.

In January, Rwanda launched the Kwibuka20 campaign, from inside Kagame’s office of course, for the same instrumental reason: to substitute the trope of genocide for the trope of authoritarianism in narratives about Rwanda.

The disinformation strategy is simple: ensure maximum international sympathy and donor dollars and a minimum of international inquiry into the government’s denial of liberties and human rights abuses.

The Kagame-led regime has a penchant for U.S. visits and visitors, and until recently successive U.S. administrations turned a blind eye to massive human rights violations for which the Kagame-led regime, according to the United Nations, is responsible in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Americans in particular have been taken in by the rhetoric of reconstruction, development, and reconciliation that invariably accompanies most public events in the country.

The RPF frames itself for Western audiences as the political party best able to move Rwanda towards a Western-style democracy because it has regularly held presidential and parliamentary elections.

The RPF handily won the most recent round of parliamentary elections, in September 2013, with 76% of the vote. In theory, it was contending with nine other parties. In practice, Rwanda’s nearly six million voters had little choice on the ballot. A total of 98% of the votes went to the RPF and its four coalition parties.

The continued dominance of the RPF in the electoral realm projects a semblance of political pluralism while masking the fact that all parties are expected to acquiesce to the ruling party. Two actual opposition parties have been banned and their leaders jailed.

Another pillar of Rwanda’s disinformation campaign is that the government promotes gender-equality. 64% percent of parliamentarians in Rwanda’s lower house are women, but this number masks reality. Although women are very visible in Rwanda politics, their ability to shape the future of women, ironically, is circumscribed. Rwanda’s parliament has limited influence.

Parliamentarians – be they male or female – actually have little power to legislate on behalf of their constituents. They have little room to develop policy or even to debate openly; space for free and open political expression is limited. Put differently, an assessment of political realities shows that women parliamentarians in Rwanda are mere accessories of power; they do not actually wield any of it.

Though the genocide has not repeated itself, growing socio-political and economic inequalities – notably the exclusion of youth – under an increasingly authoritarian and repressive government have meant that post-genocide Rwanda is still deeply entangled in its violent past. Rwandans deserve better from their American friends.

Rwanda’s Twitter-gate also reminds us that, on this 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, we should not allow our generally rosy perception of Rwanda as a stable and free country under the visionary leadership of President Kagame to mask long-standing political tensions, unresolved resentments, and the rise of an authoritarian regime.

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Susan M. Thomson is Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University in the United States. She is author of Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to Reconciliation in Postgenocide Rwanda (Wisconsin University Press, 2013).

Amazon: “Whispering Truth to Power: Everyday Resistance to State Power in Postgenocide Rwanda” (Wisconsin UP, 2013)

Source: African Arguments

Related articles:

Daily Maverick

16/03/2014

How to spread Rwandan propaganda, and intimidate opponents? Twitter, of course.

Last week, a few unfortunate clicks revealed to the world that the Twitter account of Rwandan President Paul Kagame is run by the same person who spews pro-Rwanda propaganda under the handle @RichardGoldston. The faux Goldston is, of course, allowed to be a lot less guarded than Kagame himself, and a trawl through his Twitter cache offers up a few revelations – none of which are complimentary toward South Africa. No wonder SA-Rwanda relations are at an all-time low. By SIMON ALLISON

[read full article]

Rwanda’s Peacekeeping Operations – a Poisoned Pill That Blackmails the West


OPINION

by Theogene RUDASINGWA

30.1.2014

Rwanda’s leader uses UN peace missions to maintain the dictatorship in Kigali and to enhance his formidable global financial and criminal network that liquidates his opponents

President Paul Kagame has come to love United Nations peacekeeping operations. This is ironic since he hates the United Nations, and does not actually believe in peacekeeping. It is now an unwritten rule that the West (mostly the US and UK) will ask Rwanda to participate in UN peacekeeping missions, and Kagame will kindly oblige.

Photo: Rwandan peacekeepers serving with UNAMID escort IDPs on their return from an IDP camp to their original village in Sehjanna, near Kutum, North Darfur, July 2011. Source: un.org

What is the deal?

First, the West will not shed the blood of their sons and daughters for Africans. They need their favourites like Kagame to do the job for them. Hence, Rwanda’s troops can now be found in Darfur, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Haiti. Rwanda’s officers, some of them notorious human rights abusers, are the most favoured when it comes to leading United Nations peacekeeping missions. The unspoken thought from Washington and London seems to be ‘Africans are killing Africans, who cares even if African murderous dictators like Kagame pretend to keep an illusive peace?’

Second, Kagame needs these ‘gifts of love’ from the West. He needs something to occupy his increasingly restless Tutsi army. If they are not in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they should be somewhere else.

Third, Kagame has made a fortune out of peacekeeping. His family and clique pockets most of money that should otherwise go to the Rwandan officers and men in these UN missions. Through the Horizon Group ( controlled by Rwanda’s military and intelligence), alongside Crystal Ventures ( Kagame’s financial empire that controls most of Rwanda’s economy), he gets money directly from the UN system, and indirectly from taxpayers in the West. With vast resources, Kagame has built a global financial and criminal network to liquidate any of his opponents, be they Rwandans or heads of states of other countries.

Fourth, by having his troops in these peacekeeping missions, Kagame can always blackmail the West into silence, inaction and protection when it comes to calls for accountability for his horrendous human rights abuses. All that Kagame has to do is to threaten to withdraw Rwandan troops from UN peacekeeping missions. In 2010, when the UN Mapping Report chronicled his war crimes, crimes against humanity and even possible ‘acts of genocide’ in the DRC, Kagame threw a tantrum, and threatened to withdraw his troops from Darfur. The next day, UN Secretary General embarked on a pilgrimage to Kigali to pay homage to Kagame. The report was shelved, joining many others that tell the sad story of unaccounted crimes by Kagame and his clique before and since 1994.

Fifth, Kagame has come to believe that he is indispensable to the West, in war-prone and far-flung hot spots that are still viewed as the dark continent. Through Kagame’s deployments in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region, Western military and intelligence establishments have proxy eyes and ears on the ground. Occasionally, Washington and London will timidly voice their concerns as in the M23 saga in DRC, or the assassination of Patrick Karegeya in South Africa, but the hard-nosed analysts will insist Kagame is still their man.

As in 1994, it will take another civil war, more bloodshed, regional instability and the demise of the Kigali regime for Washington and London to wake up to the new national and geopolitical realities. When that happens, Washington and London, like Paris before them, will hopefully learn that even powerful nations can be wrong, be on the wrong side of history, and knowingly help inflict damage on poor nations.

* Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa is President Paul Kagame’s former envoy to Washington and now an opposition leader in exile in the US.

 

Source: allAfrica.com

Kagame calls for end to genocide militia group


 

(Reporter’s name unknown)

31.1.2014

Photo: President Kagame (centre in glasses) in a group photo with other Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa yesterday. The New Times/ Village Urugwiro.

President Paul Kagame has called for an immediate end to the continuous impunity of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (F DLR) militia, operating in eastern DR Congo.

The President was speaking at the opening of the 22nd Ordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa yesterday.

His remarks followed a discussion and presentation of various reports, including the report by the Peace and Security Council.

“Despite the welcome agreement signed between the government of DRC and M23, an armed group behind the 1994 Genocide of the Tutsi in Rwanda, the FDLR, remains untackled, even though it is the bedrock of instability in our region. Rwanda requests this gathering to urge and follow up the end of the FDLR threat to Rwanda and the region,” the head of state said.

Kagame underscored the importance of Africa solving its peace and security issues across the continent.

“There is increasing evidence of Africa’s genuine commitment to manage our own security crises. But a lot more could be done, if together, we redoubled our efforts to confront instability; the single biggest obstacle to the prosperity we all aspire to,” he said.

President Kagame also urged all member states to keep in mind the central purpose of peacekeeping missions.

Genocide a reminder of reality

His call comes amid an ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

“Whatever the stated mandate, the protection of civilians should always be at the heart of our interventions. In Rwanda, we learned the hard way that this seemingly evident principle does not always translate into corresponding behaviour on the ground. The 1994 Genocide that we commemorate this year for the 20th time is one important reminder of this reality,” Kagame said.

Rwanda has contributed peacekeepers to several countries, including Sudan, South Sudan and, more recently, Central African Republic.

Yesterday’s discussion was preceded by a hand over ceremony of the AU chairmanship from Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania.

In his handover speech, Prime Minister Hailemariam thanked all African Union members for their support and urged them to work towards a dignified Africa.

 

“Let us strive to achieve our collective vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa.”

 

President Kagame, who is accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo, later held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam.

Contact email: editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

source: The New Times

Bill Gates Has a Point


 

 

by Gitura MWAURA

30.1.2014

Photo: Multimillionaire Bill Gates (onlinegadgetstore.com)

Bill Gates, the billionaire founder of an American multinational software giant, Microsoft, has made a bold prediction in his 2014 Gates Annual Letter.

By 2035, he suggests, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world. There are those who would not like to believe him, which he attributes to three myths. The first myth, he says, is the belief that poor countries are doomed to stay poor. The second myth is the notion that foreign aid is a big waste, with the third suggesting that saving lives leads to overpopulation.

Looked at closely, the second and third myths affirm the first, or feed from the first, and vice versa. “The belief that the world can’t solve extreme poverty and disease isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful,” Gates writes.

That anyone should hold the belief that “life in Africa never gets better, and it never will,” he describes it as a most pernicious version of the first myth.

To dispel the myth he looks at the available facts, pointing out that countries supposedly doomed to remain poor have not stayed poor.

“The percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990,” he observes.

He notes that gross domestic product (GDP) which, on average describes annual income per person, has risen in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 50 years, while seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies of the past half-decade are in Africa.

While the annual income per person in a country such as Ethiopia is $800 (RwF 545,000), Botswana has a GDP of $12,000 (Rwf 8,160,000). But on average across Africa, “after plummeting during the debt crisis of the 1980s, (the GDP) has climbed by two thirds since 1998, to nearly $2,200 from just over $1,300.”

Africa, he writes, has also made big strides in health and education. Since 1960, the life span for women in sub-Saharan Africa has gone up from 41 to 57 years, despite the HIV epidemic. Without HIV it would be 61 years.

The percentage of children in school has gone from the lowly 40s to over 75 percent since 1970.

With such gains one can see why it is a myth that life in Africa never gets better, and never will.

On the second myth, that foreign aid is a big waste, Gates points out that the “aid breeds dependency” argument misses all the countries that have graduated from being aid recipients, and focuses only on the most difficult remaining cases.

He lists former major recipients that hardly receive any aid today: Botswana, Morocco, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Thailand, Mauritius, Singapore, and Malaysia.

South Korea, he observes, received enormous amounts of aid after the Korean War, and is now a net donor. China is also a net aid donor and funds a lot of science to help developing countries. India receives 0.09 percent of its GDP in aid, down from 1 percent in 1991.

These are persuasive arguments, which, with the healthy dose of optimism that he displays makes one see why he believes that there will be almost no poor countries left in the world in the next twenty years.

What about the myth that saving lives leads to overpopulation?

He enumerates the achievements then puts them in a historical perspective: A baby born in 1960 had an 18 percent chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, the odds are less than 5 percent. In 2035, they will be 1.6 percent.

Does this imply saving lives can be a negative thing, say, overpopulation?

The irony is that saving lives doesn’t lead to overpopulation. In fact, he notes, it’s quite the opposite. Creating societies where people enjoy basic health, relative prosperity, fundamental equality, and access to contraceptives is the only way to secure a sustainable world.

Rwanda provides an apt example. Limiting reproduction started by helping women seize control of their own lives. In a span of only 5 years, from 2005 to 2010, the fertility rate decreased from 6.1 children per woman in Rwanda to 4.6 children.

Perhaps Bill Gates has a point.

The writer is a commentator on local and regional affairs.

Preparations for Walk-to-Remember underway


 

 

by Eric Kabeera

21.1.2014

Thousands of youth from 15 countries around the world will participate in the forth coming 20th anniversary of the  Genocide Walk-to-Remember over a million innocent people who perished.

Marc Gwamaka, the director of Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP) that is spearheading the event alongside other organisations like Never again Rwanda  and Generation for change, said they expect thousands to participate.

Initiated in 2009 by members of Peace and Love Proclaimers (PLP), Walk-to-Remember is an annual event designed to empower the Rwandan youth in the country and around the world to fight against Genocide.

“The preparations are done and we are now informing people to participate in the walk,” Gwamaka told The New Times yesterday.

He said they are currently moving in schools within East Africa sensitising and holding debates about the genocide as part of this year’s Walk to Remember.

The Walk is part  of the preparatory activities ahead of the April 7 commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi.

The Remembrance Flame already on a tour around different districts in the country is also one of the activities .
Gwamaka said they also intend to send proposals to all Rwandan embassies and consulates to get involved in organising the event.

Last year, about 60,000 youth participated in the Walk-to-Remember in various countries.

Countries that will take part include Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Rwanda, china, Malaysia, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Netherlands.

Contact: eric.kabeera@newtimes.co.rw

Source: The New Times

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Are you interested in participating in this initiative?

Contact: info@walk2remember.org

Official Walk2Remember Hompage

Walk to Remember International’s Facebook Page

Kagabo, the butcher of Ntongwe


 

 

By Jean Pierre BUCYENSENGE

21.1.2014

CHARLES KAGABO.

That is the name that still sends the chills down many a people’s spine in the present day Ruhango District, formerly Ntongwe commune.

Photo: Hundreds of residents defied scorching sun to welcome Kwibuka Flame in Kinazi, Ruhango District, on Saturday. Sorce: The New Times/ JP Bucyensenge

For each chill the name gives the people, the opposite reaction is the longing for the day Kagabo, a former bourgoumestre (mayor), would be brought to justice. He remains at large, 20 years later.

Kagabo, who is believed to have been the leader of militiamen that executed thousands in his mayoral jurisdiction as well as surrounding districts, especially in the then Mugina commune, is described as merciless, cold, calculative and vicious in his plots to exterminate Tutsis.

Survivors in both Kamonyi and the neighbouring Ruhango District accuse Kagabo and Burundian refugees in the area at the time of being at the forefront of the killings there.

Kagabo is said to have come up with “an elaborate plan to kill Tutsis and executed it with utmost care and in minute detail.”

The Burundians in question were those who were sheltered at the Nyagahama refugee camp, in the then Ntongwe commune.

“They [the Burundians] were stationed there in preparation of the killings which they would eventually commit,” says Samuel Dusabiyumva, a survivor and the head of the committee organising the burial of some 60,000 area Genocide victims.

“It was a plan to have them near places considered strategic and where it was believed Tutsis could hide.”

Nyagahama is also the place where the Burundians were picked from, paid, offered free transport and promised other rewards by then local leaders to kill Tutsis who had gathered in the then Mugina commune.

“He was tactical in his methods. He first targeted rich Tutsis and intellectuals. He emphasised both quality and quantity [in his killings] methods,Dusabiyumva says of Kagabo.

Other survivors described Kagabo as “a mischievous leader who used his skills to exterminate Tutsis.”

“He was like a chameleon,” Dusabiyumva says. “He knew how to approach militiamen to mobilise them to kill and he had the charms to approach some Tutsis to know where they were planning to hide or escape through so he could send his killers after them.”

Critical role:

Sources say Kagabo was a medical worker and that he was sent to lead Ntongwe commune in the build up to the Genocide.

“May be the appointing authority knew him as someone who would successfully execute their genocidal plan,” Dusabiyumva says.

The Burundians enlisted by Kagabo joined hands with militia groups, gendarmes and soldiers to exterminate Tutsis, according to testimonies.

“If Kagabo was not the leader of the commune, the killings would never have been at the scale we saw. I bet so many Tutsis could have survived,” says Dusabiyumva.

Survivors believe Kagabo is alive and at large, probably in DR Congo.

It is estimated that more than 60,000 Tutsis perished in the former Ntongwe sector. The victims are set to be given a decent burial at a new memorial site being built in the area.

Testimonies indicate that the Burundians had been trained and offered military equipment in the build up to the Genocide. They used traditional weapons, grenades and rifles to execute Tutsis, survivors said.

“What they did was unimaginable. They killed Tutsis in the most horrific of ways. What saddens us the most is that they are still free, going about their lives in their country. The government should do everything possible to bring them to book,” Marie Claire Niyomujeje, a survivor, says.

Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the executive secretary for the National Commission for the Fight against the Genocide, said efforts to track the Burundians and other foreigners accused of playing a role in the Genocide has been ongoing.

“I am confident that time will come when they will face justice,” he said.

Contact: jp.bucyensenge@newtimes.co.rw

 

Source: The New Times

We Must Choose Actions Over Words, Says Kagame


 

by  Ivan R. MUGISHA,

21.1.204

Photo: President Kagame addresses participants at the Kenya Governors’ Summit organised by the Nation Media Group in Naivasha, Kenya, yesterday. Kagame urged African leaders to do more for the common citizens than to talk. ((Source: The New Times/ Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame has said Africans and their leaders need to work hard to ensure the continent’s rightful place on the global stage.

He was speaking yesterday in Naivasha, Kenya at an event dubbed the ‘Governors’ Summit’ organised by the Nation Media Group-an occasion that gave the country’s governors an opportunity to take stock of the last eight months they have been in power under a devolved governance system.

The President said for Africans to claim their rightful place on matters that concern the continent and the world at large, they need to spend more time on actions than words.

“People speak of the African renaissance or Africa Rising – all these mean a lot and I want to believe them. But I ask myself hard questions, like why wasn’t the previous one Africa’s century? What stopped Africa from claiming its rightful place during past periods?” he posed.

The Rwandan leader added: “There are more meaningful things to be done than to be said. We need to do more; be honest with ourselves, and have the courage to face our challenges upfront.

“We have to make sure we fulfill the hope Africans have for our continent.”

Kagame hailed the East African Community (EAC), for placing the interests of its citizens right at the heart of the regional integration agenda.

But he urged regional leaders to do more.

“The overwhelming positive reaction from our citizens in this framework of cooperation is proof that we have common aspirations that transcend our individual countries. The people of East Africa want to trade together and to get opportunities that come with strengthening regional collaboration. It is up to the leaders to find ways to deliver on these expectations.”

Kagame said that leaders in the region had a duty to be accountable to individuals beyond their respective borders in order to enhance EAC integration process.

Kagame shared Rwanda’s governance and decentralisation experience following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and encouraged Kenya’s county government to place more emphasis on homegrown solutions that prioritise the wellbeing and aspirations of the people of Kenya.

He said interventions that respond to the unique situations of a country and the needs of its people deliver development visions faster.

Kagame also took questions in an interactive question-and-answer session which touched on his personal journey into top leadership positions and how Rwanda managed to forge ahead after suffering from the most brutal genocide in recorded history – the infamous 100 days of slaughter that claimed the lives of more than a million people.

“Together with the rest of East Africa, Rwanda stands with Kenya as you embark on the important work of implementing a governance framework that will deliver to your citizens,” Kagame told the governors and other participants.

Kagame added: “This new beginning should be a unique opportunity to use your own homegrown solutions to achieve and sustain the goals of your respective counties and ultimately to attain your national vision.”

The President said although each country is unique in its own way, African governments shared common aspirations and challenges, which provide an opportunity to learn from each other.

“We can adopt and adapt beneficial practices and sidestep pitfalls to guarantee the wellbeing of our people and build successful nations. To begin with, it is up to us to put in place a leadership and governance that is based on local needs and is people centered. This is the first step in fostering community prosperity, which in turn will create confident and self-reliant nations,” he explained.

Drawing from Rwanda’s home-based initiatives like Umuganda (monthly community service), the Rwandan leader urged Kenyan governors to devise cost effective schemes that involve citizens in nation building.

For example, he said, if you don’t need donors to keep a clean house then you don’t need any to keep a clean country. “In the business of government, there isn’t anything that doesn’t involve citizens. We continue to learn that sustained frank dialogue between leaders and citizens at all levels, is the only way national goals can be achieved, even with limited material resources.”

“Failure to respond to the needs of our people will inevitably result in stagnation, instability and, eventually, jeopardise sovereignty – but we have the ability to prevent such outcomes.”

Other speakers at the forum included Isaac Ruto, Governor of Bomet and Chair of the Kenya Governors’ Council, Philip Kinisu, Chairman Governance Board, PwC Africa, Linus Gitahi, Group CEO, Nation Media Group, and Prof. Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University.

Kenya swore in 47 elected county governors in a new government structure in March last year. The structure is provided for under the new 2010 constitution.

The county governments are expected to decentralise service provision and resource distribution and to involve citizens’ participation in government affairs.

 

Source: The New Times

Related articles:

Work With the People, Kagame Tells Leaders

by Francis MUREITHI, 21.1.2014, The Star

Rwanda President Paul Kagame has asked governors from the 47 counties to involve locals in deciding on new policies. Kagame told the governors to embrace consultations with the locals and involve them in any measure taken to address the challenges facing the counties… read more

RDF Is Living Up to the Vow of ‘Never Again’


 

 

by Paul NTAMBARA

18.1.2014

As you read this, the Rwanda Defence Forces’ (RDF) Mechanized Infantry battalion of 850 Personnel has deployed to the Central African Republic () as part of an African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA).

The mission is mandated to protect civilians, restore security and public order. It is mandated to stabilise the country and restore state authority, support reform and restructure defence and security. It is also tasked to create conducive conditions to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the population in need.

The Central African Republic finds itself in dire straits following ethnic and political violence that has also taken a religious dimension. Media reports indicate that Muslims are being ‘butchered like sheep’ by Christian militants. The UN has warned of ‘seeds of a genocide’ being sown in the now volatile country.

The Country was thrown into chaos following the ouster of President Francois Bozize in March, last year, by the Séléka Muslim rebel coalition led by Michel Djotodia.

From then on, it has been free roll into anarchy. The rebel leader could not hold the Country together; He could not put to an end the inter-religious violence. Amid growing international pressure, Djotodia and his Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye resigned their positions. Alexandre-Ferdinand Nguendet, the head of the National Transitional Council (CNT) is now the man at the helm as the world holds its breath.

I will not delve much into the country’s internal politics but rather focus on efforts to bring peace back to the troubled Country.

The deployment of the RDF in CAR comes at a time when Rwanda is marking the twentieth anniversary of the 1994 Genocide that claimed over one million Tutsi. No Country understands the consequences of indecisiveness by the international community, especially when human lives are on the line, more than Rwanda. This is what makes Rwanda’s Peace Support missions in countries like CAR seem like a ‘natural’ reaction. It is also in observance of the ‘Responsibility to Protect Principle and the ‘Never Again’ vow.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, speaking at an event in New York to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Genocide against Tutsi noted:

” When people are killed or violated in the name of religion, race or ethnicity, everybody’s humanity is diminished. We are all brutalised – victims and perpetrators as well as bystanders.”

The niggling question is what you do when you are ‘brutalised’, when your own humanity is diminished? History shows that the international community, under the umbrella of the UN, chose to be bystanders, only to ‘plead guilty’ after the victims had already gone through the throes of gruesome death.

I interpret the readiness of Rwanda to put its troops in harm’s way in Countries like Sudan, Haiti, South Sudan, Liberia, Guinea-Bissau and Ivory Coast as a resolve not to be bystanders like the rest of the world was when the 1994 Genocide was unravelling in our own backyard. It is a fulfilment of the ‘Never Again’ vow.

The Rwandan troops have exhibited exemplary professionalism and discipline wherever they have been deployed.

Andre Roux, of the Institute for Security Studies, says of the RDF:

“The Rwanda army is in the top 20 per cent in Africa in terms of troop quality – young, very fit, good weapons skills and good command and control.”

There is no doubt that the country’s recent history is a motivating factor. Rwanda knows well the price of dithering; it cannot afford to make the same mistakes made by the international community twenty years ago.

It is the 6th biggest troop contributor in UN peacekeeping operations. The deployed troops have done more than ordinary troops on a peace support mission would do. They have introduced Rwanda’s homegrown solutions like community work, or Umuganda and built schools, roads and health centres. They have built peace and improved lives.

It is also prudent to recognise peace support efforts by other countries and organisations that have provided equipment and funded these missions. It is through this synergy that the world will uphold the principle of ‘Never Again’, for, in the words of Eliasson, “repeating ‘never again’ after atrocity is ‘a sign of continued failure’.

Source: allAfrica.com

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Did you know about…?

Séléka

Séléka (also called the Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR) is an alliance of militias in the Central African Republic that overthrew the government on March 24, 2013. Séléka leader Michel Djotodia has claimed himself President of the Central African Republic.  Nearly all the members of Séléka are Muslim.

The rebel coalition originated in an agreement signed between factions of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace(CPJP) and the Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK), two of the CAR’s many anti-government militias.CPJP in this case refers to the “Fundamental” splinter group of the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace, one of many militias involved in the CAR’s long-running civil war. A different faction of the CPJP signed a peace accord with the government on August 25.

The Séléka first emerged on 15 September 2012 under the name alliance CPSK-CPJP, when it published a press release taking responsibility for the attacks on three towns that day.It was the last of the major rebel groups to do so.ThePatriotic Convention for Saving the Country (CPSK) was previously hardly known.

On 15 December 2012 the group published its first press release using the full name “Séléka CPSK-CPJP-UFDR”. This including the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity (UFDR). Two groups that do not appear in the title, the long-standing militia Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC), and the newly minted Alliance for Revival and Rebuilding(A2R), were reportedly part of the alliance.

In September 2013 Michel Djotodia announced that Seleka had been dissolved.The disbanded group has dispersed into the countryside and have been committing mass atrocities according to Human Rights Watch.

Executions, rape and looting by ex-Seleka fighters after the coup and disbanding have formented religious tension where the population is 80 per cent Christian. Christian militas, using the name anti-balaka, have been formed to fight the Muslim Seleka. The United Nations is considering sending troops to stop the atrocities. On November 26, France indicated that it would boost its presence an additional 1,000 soldiers in the Central African Republic to augment its existent 400 troops if it receives U.N. backing.

Source: Wikipedia “Séléka”

Rwanda to Host Regional Traffic Center


 

21 .1. 2014

Photo: Regional Police officers led by IGP Emmanuel Gasana meeting over the establishment a Traffic Management Center (Source: Newsofrwanda.com)

A new East African Community (EAC) regional traffic excellence center is due to be established in Rwanda as a way of enhancing regional integration and using Rwanda as an example in managing the center.

Rwanda National Police (RNP) has been put in charge of the new centre of excellence which will be responsible for innovation, research and capacity building of Police officers in EAC in road traffic-related initiatives.

A team of experts from the EAC member states visited Rwanda National Police General Headquarters in Kacyiru on January 20, to assess the process in the establishment of the Traffic Management (TM) Regional Centre of Excellence.

According to Rwanda’s Inspector General of Police (IGP) Emmanuel K. Gasana Rwanda is prepared and ready to host the centre to support each other in building a regional force, that is well equipped and properly managed and productive.

The head of the delegation, Burundi Assistant Commissioner of Police Kaguta Bazirakye, also head of Peace and Security at the EAC secretariat said the EAC is impressed with the Rwanda National Police’s implementation progress and what has been achieved.

“Rwanda National Police is special; they are doing a wonderful job. Rwanda has all it takes to host the centre and Police will help move it to the highest horizon,” said Bazirakye.

Though police forces in the EAC region are listed among the most corrupt public institutions, according to a transparence International report in 2013, the Rwanda national police is believed to be at the lead of cleaning up its records.

IGP Gasana says that Rwanda has dealt with the issue of corruption with zero tolerance in its force, adding that putting in place service facilities, capacity building and training of officers has been vital in strengthening the force.

Today, Rwanda has established a motor vehicle inspection center and Gishari Integrated Polytechnic as some of the strategies in place to check on the mechanical faults of cars and give skills to officers.

The Rwanda police force also owns a mobile test lane and is in the process to open other five centers in different parts of the country- and soon one will be able to get a driving permit within 48 hours and Gasana says that these initiatives will make the Traffic Management Centre a vibrant one

 

Source: News of Rwanda