4 December 2018

Rwanda: Senators Want Electoral Volunteers' Work Valued in Monetary Terms

A monetary value for the contribution of electoral volunteers during national elections should be determined in order to ascertain the real cost of elections in Rwanda.

The resolution was made yesterday by the Senate after the Senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance presented a report on the September parliamentary elections.

Overall, the senators said that the polls were well organised and represented a big democratic achievement for the country.

Senate president Bernard Makuza told journalists that there was progress since the country held its first post-Genocide parliamentary and presidential elections in 2003.

He argued that Rwandans are now more understanding of each other's ideas.

"It is clear that people compete respectfully and they respect principles of non-discrimination by "including Rwandans of all facets of society," he said.

The recent parliamentary elections produced particularly inclusive results as all the political parties that participated in the poll obtained seats in the Lower House while vulnerable members of society such as women, the youth, and people with disabilities retained adequate representation in the House.

"We are making progress in building consensual democracy," MP Dr Jean-Chrisostome Ngabitsinze, of PSD political party, told the senators.

The chairperson of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance, Jean Népomuscène Sindikubwabo, said that the quality of elections in Rwanda has been improving given that the recent parliamentary polls were conducted peacefully.

"The quality of elections has continued to improve in line with Rwanda's democratic path," he said.

While the parliamentary election benefited from the services of 75,000 electoral volunteers, the senators want their work to be valued in monetary terms.

Rwanda's spending on the last legislative elections dropped slightly compared to the earlier election.

The cost of conducting parliamentary polls dropped from Rwf7.65 billion in 2008 to Rwf5.43 billion in 2013, before dropping further to Rwf5.4 billion in 2018.

Senators want that achievement in reducing the cost of elections to be well attributed to electoral volunteers by showing how much exactly the country would spend without their services.

The volunteers only get allowances to help them carry out their duties on Election Day.

In the last parliamentary elections in September, they took care of the polling processes at 2,471 polling stations and 17,146 polling rooms across the country as 7.2 million Rwandans were expected to take part in the poll.

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