Rwanda: Use Mediators to Solve Communal Problems - Gasabo Residents Told

4 December 2019

Communities must prioritise solving any arising conflicts through mediation as part of the process to build a cohesive society, the Minister of Justice has said.

Minister Johnson Busingye said this while addressing residents of Nyabikenke cell, Bumbogo Sector in Gasabo district during "inteko y'abaturage" a weekly community platform through which arising matters are discussed and remedies sought.

"When conflicts take too long to be solved, the result is poverty. People should always consider the worth of what they are fighting for, don't pursue a conflict beyond necessary just because you think you were disrespected," Busingye said.

The minister also said that it is always better to optimize the services of community mediators (Abunzi).

According to Busingye, 70 per cent of the problems and conflicts in the country are solved through mediation while only 30 per cent go to court.

The mediation model has been always encouraged by government due to its nature of dispensing justice, because it strives for a win-win situation, unlike courts, where one either wins or loses.

"Disagreements are bound to happen however, one's potential is shown by how they solve the problem," he told the residents.

Busingye also advised the residents to include a progress report on their agenda in the meetings and not sorely focus on solving problems but also discuss their development.

The minister of justice, Johnson Busingye, left in a white shirt, addressing residents complaints at the Inteko.

In an interactive session, residents raised different issues the minister and other officials who included the Mayor of Gasabo district, Stephen Rwamulangwa, and were assisted in finding solutions.

Rwamalangwa emphasized the need to follow the set laws especially on land and housing for any land-use related activities, saying that shortcuts end up being costly.

He said: "Paying a bribe to get a construction permit is more costly than following the set procedures. It costs more in terms of money and once caught you will end up a loser."

Mediators seek training

Tharcisse Kayumba who has been a community mediator for 13 years said the presence of the minister at the event showed the trust and support they from the government.

"However mediators should be trained more because some cases end up mismanaged because some of them are not well trained," Kayumba said.

During the meeting, Ivinah Mukamurama was among those helped to address her problem where she had lost her land because she could not get documents after she failed to authenticate her status as a widow.

"This session with the minister has saved me from back-to-back errands to the different local government offices. I had actually given up after being tossed from the sector, to the cell, down to the village and back up," she said.

She however said that much as the mediators might be helpful, there are still issues around the execution of their rulings, especially when it comes to the sector level.

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