17 December 2012

Rwanda: DR Congo, Aid to Dominate Annual Talks

Kigali — Rwanda's annual National public dialogue commonly known as the (Umushyikirano) was expected to take place last week with the DRC crisis and the resultant aid cuts expected to form this year's debate.

While progress nationally has been made within Rwanda with low inflation levels, steady economic growth, reduced poverty levels, internal security to mention but a few, Rwanda's year has been made tumultuous by accusations of alleged support for the M23 rebels haranguing Joseph Kabila's leadership in neighboring DRC.

Several development partners subsequently withheld aid and many continue to put the country under pressure in the process drawing President Paul Kagame's government in endless diplomatic rebuttals that have resulted in mixed results.

The national Dialogue is where leaders and citizens in Rwanda collectively take stock of the government's performance for the past one year and set new goals and is normally presided over by the Head of State, as required by the Constitution.

A matter which has at times driven the President in open anger during national addresses, President Kagame was expected to largely dwell on the issue of a problematic DR Congo and also reaffirm confidence among Rwandans that their impressive progress will not be ruined by the current hostility and setbacks originating from their much larger but chaotic neighbor.

The president was also expected to further rally Rwandans both home and abroad to support the recently launched voluntary development fund dubbed the 'Agaciiro' in which Rwandans contribute money to help the government fund its domestic development projects to supplement other sources of funding especially from donors.

Inadvertently, it's an idea that was suggested by citizens in the previous national dialogue and it was launched about three months ago by the President and has reportedly resulted into collections of over RWF20billion cash contributions from Rwandans with many continuing to pledge.

It was expected that the Finance Minister would also give an up-date of the fund and also give an idea what the money would be used for at a time when Britain had once again threatened to withhold their budgetary aid worth 25million UK pounds.

Rwandans will need to be at their usual best to rally behind their leaders to continue on their impressive recovery efforts that have seen Rwanda scoop so many international awards for excellence in a number of sectors including least corrupt state and ironically, being one of the best countries when it comes to putting donor aid to good and accountable use.

Most of the bad publicity on Rwanda is ironical considering that the same sources of the negative machinations are at the fore of praising the country for doing well in similar areas.

It's the reason why the President always poses the same question on these national dialogues, "why 'but' all the time?"

He never quite understands why Rwanda's well documented success stories have been littered with 'Buts' and other negative innuendoes.

Yet he has always insisted, no body shall derail or blind him off his track, that of making Rwandans a more proud, united and healthier people in all avenues of life.

On leadership, he continues to preside over a much disciplined government with clear contract terms (Imihigo) where leaders know what they are supposed to do for their people in a certain period of time at the end of which they are called upon to explain what they were able to achieve and why they didn't where they failed.

Those that have been to Kigali or beyond the legendary clean and organized city can be testify the results of this model of leadership which has enabled the country to recover from the unfortunate 1994 genocide against the Tutsi that claimed millions and left behind many diseases and orphans, in record time.

Coming here close to two decades later, it's easy to see that Rwandans have emerged stronger and wiser based on lessons learnt from their past.

Rwanda's past that pit themselves against each other but now have the opportunity to live the current experience where Unity and purpose drives the Nation opening many opportunities for all as indicated by the drastic fall of poverty levels to under just 45% in a space of five years from above 70% in 1994 where disease and pity described Rwandans.

In the build up to the National dialogue, the private sector organized 'the prosperity expo' where Rwandan entrepreneurs and ICT brains converged to showcase what Rwandans are capable of doing.

One of those was a Robot built at a rural based Tumba college of technology located in the hills of Rwanda's Northern Province. The Robot is programmed to do domestic work and the school says this should be the future of Rwanda.

During this year's national dialogue, the private sector were also given a slot to present their story, a story which was nonexistent eighteen years ago but one which is so strong that it's tipped to be the basis of Rwanda's strength by 2020, a private sector based economy.

Rwandans who were always on the move as refugees derided upon by their hosts wherever they were forced to run due to civil war are now settled in a peaceful country an opportunity which has enabled them to discover how good they are at business.

The year's dialogue also came towards a period moment when the RPF was planning to hold celebrations to mark 25 years of successful existence and being the party that has reorganized Rwanda's politics from the brand that ran the country in the post colonial period.

Home grown approaches are always the stand out subjects of discussions during the National dialogue, its where ideas are thrown to the fore for discussion by citizens from where the leaders refine them into workable policy, that's where the Agaciiro development fund (AgDF) was hatched from and a year later, Rwandans gathered to hear how just an idea had been turned into a product which came to the rescue of a country's development hopes at a time when baseless accusations had threatened hopes of economic stability.

It's a moment where President Kagame stands up and looks down proudly at the Rwandans he leads and says, "I wouldn't exchange my challenges here in Rwanda for any promises anywhere in the world, we shall form our destiny and in us lay our strength," a quote he normally repeats and one that has provided the foundation for pride and patriotism among Rwandans.

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