25th Liberation: Rwanda Evolves into a Democracy
Written by: George Kalisa
Friday, June 28th, 2019, 5:36
It's not all about whether others appreciate the political progress in Rwanda but it’s about the Rwandans determining their development trajectory and destiny vis-à-vis their heinous history.
The citizens’ acknowledgement that Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) still delivers on the promises to prevail over development surpasses stereotype ideas about democracy and lies traded by a section of Rwandan diaspora, particularly the self-seeking leaders of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which Kigali declared a terrorist group following grenade attacks in the capital Kigali reportedly masterminded by this South Africa based group.
President Paul Kagame who is a darling of Western powers and fellow African leaders upholds a citizen-centred mode of governance and zero tolerance to corruption principle that are basically catalysts to socio-economic transformation seen by the country devastated by the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi 25 years ago. Kagame won the 2018 Presidential election by 98.7 per cent of the vote.
RPF-Inkotanyi-led government under the visionary and all-inclusive leadership of President Kagame boasts of an endless list of unprecedented gains twenty-five years later.
Before July4, 1994 Rwanda was only known globally for the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi when more than one million Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed in a failed but systematic attempt to cleanse the Tutsi.
“Why were bodies dumped into rivers, to send them back up the Nile, where they supposedly came from? Why did some parents even kill their own children, who looked a certain way? None of that started with a plane crash. So where did it come from?” President Kagame wondered recently in his commemoration speech at the beginning of 100-day of 25th commemoration anniversary whose end coincides with the liberation day.
Kagame says “(…) together, we have woven the tattered threads of our unity into a new tapestry”
Prior to the genocide Rwanda was not closed to the international community save the allies of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s genocide regime especially France and Belgium.
The stateless country RPF liberators took over was home to thousands of survivors and genocide perpetrators polarized along ethnicity lines with incomprehensive breakdown of institutions and absence of rule of law.
After President Kagame had stopped the genocide, he led the gallant liberators and the entire resilient Rwandan populace in the rebuilding and reconstruction of Rwanda and enhancing public services across all sectors.
"Rwanda is a country that has invested in the health and education of its people because we believe that economic growth is about the people. It's driven by people. It's for the people," observed Dr. Richard Sezibera, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation.
The health sector has made great strides which are translated in a huge increase in life expectancy, reduction in infant mortality rate and birth rates. There are community health workers (CHWs) in each village attached to sector health centres. Apart from monitoring pregnant women and babies under five, the CHWs sensitize communities to eat vitamin-rich foods like vegetables and use mosquito bed nets. Today, Rwanda is a model country in health systems.
Education has also registered great strides following the introduction of free, basic and universal education for 12 years and hence school dropout rates at all stages of education have significantly ebbed. The youth who continue with high education have increased due to the privatization of higher education and there is an upward trend in the number of University graduates.
Tourism, number one foreign exchange earner has recorded impressive growth over the last 25 years with a goal of $800 by 2024. Before 1994 Rwanda was exporting mainly refugees.
“Why were refugees Rwanda’s biggest export for decades? Kagame wondered recently.
Twenty-five years of liberation have seen Rwanda registering milestones in the political, economic and social spheres including women empowerment with some 64% women representation in legislature and gender-balanced Cabinet with 50% women becoming the second African nation after Ethiopia.
“We claim no special place, but we have a place to claim. The fighting spirit is alive in us. What happened here will never happen again (…) For those from here or from outside who think our country has not seen enough of a mess and want to mess with us, in defense of those children you saw and our nation, I want to say, we will mess up with them big time,” stressed Kagame.
It’s against this backdrop that whoever nurses the idea of destabilizing Rwanda - one of Africa’s fast growing economies on the Continent, especially the Rwandan dissidents and RNC, a terrorist group allegedly responsible for activities that continue to threaten the security of the entire region, should think twice and “playing with fire”.
The 25-year old nation has exploited its bad history to build capacity to defend herself against any negative forces in order to safeguard national interests such as the protection of Rwandans and their properties. It has also leveraged history and experience to save millions of civilian populations in the region through contribution of troops to various UN peacekeeping missions in Africa like the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) in efforts to protect civilians and return peace to regions engulfed by civil strife.
Rwanda is one of the top five largest contributors to international peacekeeping missions with presence of police deployment to South Sudan, Sudan, Haiti and Central African Republic. The East African nation has participated in regional peacekeeping since 2004. Amidst provocations by neighbours Rwanda has not waived its peace principles by an inch to the extent that the anticipated retaliation for the killings of Rwandans in Kampala is not about to happen.
I have never been an apologist of the Kigali administration for fear denting my journalism profession but the fact that both Ugandans and Rwandans co-exist in Rwanda under maximum, indiscriminating security for their lives and properties increasing reports of arbitrary murders and torture of Rwandans across the border is a big story to a sober and professional writer.
“The central purpose of peace operations is the protection of civilians. This cannot be said often enough. It is not the protection of peace agreements or UN mandates, even peacekeepers for that matter, much less the protection of politicians. The mission is to protect the ordinary people who, in most cases, are at most risk,” Kagame reiterated the purpose of peace missions during a peacekeeping summit in Kigali in 2015.
It’s no need to mention, that the land of a 1000 hills has over the 25 years built security capacity to defend its sovereignty and her people against detractors.
In a nutshell, Rwandans have strong reasons to celebrate in a big way the 25th liberation anniversary and continue supporting the ruling RPF-Inkotanyi party, and gallant liberators as they say “more gains lay ahead” locally translated as “ibyiza biri imbere”.