The New Times (Kigali)

17 August 2012

Rwanda: The Perfect Trinity

Forget about the Olympics, it was the same old, tired excuse 'no medals but we gained a lot of experience'. Three things stood out for me over the last few days: The Chamber of Deputies passed the long awaited Whistle-blowers bill, Cabinet blessed the newly created a solidarity fund dubbed 'Agaciro Development Fund' and made their personal contribution, and then the plan to send all senior six leavers on National Service (Urugerero) in no particular order. These are three seemingly unrelated developments which attest to the resolve by Rwandans to spearhead their development agenda.

The Agaciro Development Fund could not have come at a better time with some development partners telling everyone and anyone with time to listen of their plans to 'withhold, defer, suspend' aid (whatever all this means) on the basis of the highly contentious UN 'experts' report which alleges that Rwanda was supportive of the rebel uprising in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Let me not bore you with the details, you have probably heard enough of it.

The idea of setting up the Agaciro Development Fund has been construed by some as a response to the threat to cut aid by some development partners but my usual retentive memory tells me that the idea was floated during last year's National Dialogue as an ingenious way of mobilising voluntary contributions to support the government's development programmes.

The idea is also symbolic, an emphasis albeit in a practical way of the message from the Country's top leadership for Rwandans to own their development agenda. On the onset cabinet has contributed handsomely, with locals and other Rwandans and friends of Rwanda in the Diaspora waiting in tow. Let the mobilisation begin.

The spirit of owning the Country continued to gather steam over the last fortnight. A plan to send all senior six leavers on National Service was unveiled. While the working Rwandans dig deep in their pockets to support the Country's development, the youth cannot afford to sit and idle away. Their knowledge, skills and strength have to be put to better use. This calls for proper planning, mobilisation and sensitisation for maximum benefits.

I can envision students facilitating adult literacy programmes, hygiene and sanitation campaigns, and social welfare programmes like building homes for the poor and the vulnerable, constructing roads and bridges and a thing or two about patriotism in the process. This is the ideal preparation for our Youth so that when the mantle is passed on, they will not be found wanting.

As Rwandans continue to dig deep in the pockets and as our youth gear up for National Service, there is need to guard the fruits of our sweat, which is why the passing of the whistle-blowers bill by parliament stood out last week. Rwanda has gained acclaim for its strong stance against corruption. This has not been done to look good in the eyes of the world but with an understanding that corruption and development are not bedfellows. Corruption has to be rooted out if development is to be evenly spread out.

This is what makes the whistle-blowing - a lawful disclosure of classified information on graft-related crimes without retribution - very important. Rwandans cannot afford to standby as crimes are committed. Agaciro Development Fund, National Service and Whistle-blowing, this was the perfect trinity for me.

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