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PARLIAMENT – President Paul Kagame yesterday said that the country’s progress and ambitions can only be achieved if the country adopts home grown initiatives rather than importing solutions that may not necessary address the needs of the country.

Officiating at the closing of the 7th National Dialogue, President Kagame noted that it is ironical that people who might not know the country’s development needs try to impose their own ideas.

He told the high-level meeting that convened at the parliamentary buildings that Rwanda has pursued home grown solutions to successfully address challenging issues that the country faced.

He called upon Rwandans to value and own these solutions grounded in the Rwandan cultures that have offered answers to some of the most pressing problems any nation has ever witnessed.

He pointed out Gacaca, Ubudehe, Umuganda, Imihigo, Ingando and Itorero as successful initiatives ‘made in Rwanda’ designed to address emerging national issues.

Kagame hit out at critics of local Gacaca courts created six years ago to address the huge task of bringing to justice hundreds of thousands of people who participated in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, saying that its success is a matter of record.

“Gacaca gave us a solution that we wouldn’t get from anywhere— you must own it, it is your story, you must write. You don’t allow anybody else to write your story,” Kagame said.

He also cited TIG, a programme which ensured that thousands of people who committed offences in the Genocide have their sentences commuted to public service, instead of imprisoning them, as one of the most successful home-grown solutions.

The President told the dialogue that Rwanda’s gender equity policy was purely Rwandan original initiative that was not borrowed from anywhere, since the levels of gender equality achieved in Rwanda don’t exist anywhere.

As for the much-talked-about ‘political space’, the President drew the example of the conduct of the 7th national dialogue where Rwandans and anyone else who wished to express their views directly, through open phone lines, as a demonstration of freedom of expression in the country.

The President expressed disappointment and was dismayed that some of the resolutions reached in the past dialogues had not been implemented. He cited examples of the shortcomings in the Survivor Fund (FARG) and TIG as some of the issues that keep coming up and yet solutions to address them were agreed upon in previous conventions.

He said this was an outcome of the bad practice on the part of some leaders who choose to use short-cuts to address issues instead of seriously addressing them and finding meaningful solutions.

The President reminded the convention that fighting corruption and poverty should be the responsibility of the Rwandan people and their leaders as he underscored the fact that poverty devalues human life and undermines human rights.

Kagame emphasised the importance of sustaining what has been achieved and pointed out that this can only be realised if there is continued follow-up on what has been achieved.

In spite of the achievements recorded, the President said, the Rwandan people should not be complacent, and hard work with concerted efforts have to be maintained to ensure sustainability.


By Edmund Kagire

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