10 August 2018

Rwanda: Imihigo - Put Citizens First, Says Kagame

Photo: New Times
President Kagame poses for a group photo with the mayors whose districts scored highly in the implementation of Imihigo for the financial year 2017/18. Left is Local Government minister Francis Kaboneka.

President Paul Kagame yesterday cautioned local leaders and other government officials who fail to address citizens' problems, urging them to focus on addressing the issues affecting communities.

He delivered the message in Kigali while presiding over the dissolution of the outgoing Lower House, which also involved the presentation of the 2017/18 performance contract (Imihigo) report and the signing of the Imihigo for the 2018/19 fiscal year.

The Head of State said that some leaders often seem to understand the issues at hand while taking on responsibilities but then fail to implement programmes often out of lack of ability to cooperate and work together.

Explaining that nobody is asking the leaders to do the impossible, the President reminded them that citizens expect them to fulfil their promises.

Kagame said that, for those leaders who performed poorly, it's often an issue of leadership, warning them against spending their time on unnecessary wrangles instead of fulfilling their responsibilities.

"You must learn to separate your personal conflicts from that of the office you are appointed to and focus your attention on resolving issues that affect your communities. Using your position to solve personal issues and for personal gain is wrong," he said.

The President urged leaders to improve on citizen outreach, saying that development partners seem to have a better understanding of the local issues than some Rwandan leaders.

Officials at the signing of the 2018-2019 Imihigo and dissolution of Lower House in Kigali yesterday. Village Urugwiro.

"Our development partners are better at citizen outreach than we are. Have we been adopted in our own country? Is this our philosophy? Is this our politics?" he posed.

Kagame added: "Everyday citizens in our communities voice out their complaints. These are our people, they are our neighbours, and we know each other very well. These are people whose concerns we are supposed to address. We have been talking about this for years now".

Commenting on results from the assessment of performance contracts, the President said that poor performance of some districts must have hugely affected residents, with some areas of the country still faced with issues such as malnutrition.

He especially tasked leaders to fight child malnutrition, which continues to be a daunting challenge for the country.

"Fighting malnutrition should be considered as an urgent task and be given special attention. Most of our children are malnourished not because we don't have nutritious food to give them but due to the fact that there is no one on their side to follow-up," the President said.

Speaking about the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, Kagame thanked the outgoing Members of the Lower House for their work in the last five years they have been in office. He challenged those who will replace them to bring fresh ideas to parliament.

"I want to thank you once again for your contribution to our country's development. Some of you will be re-elected while others will continue to serve in different capacities. I wish you all success in your future endeavours," he said.

The outgoing MPs passed 315 laws, a job that the now former Speaker, Donatille Mukabalisa, commended for its good impact on the country's governance and citizens' lives.

"The laws we passed helped improve the welfare of Rwandans, good governance, and security," she said.

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