KIGALI - Long serving Member of Parliament Judith Kanakuze yesterday afternoon succumbed to a yet-to-be-known sickness.
Her death was officially announced yesterday evening by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Denis Polisi, saying that the actual illness that claimed the vocal lawmaker is yet to be revealed by doctors.
“She has been one of the most hardworking MPs- a great representative who felt and spoke out the needs of her country,” Polisi said by phone.
The Deputy Speaker added that Kanukuze will be remembered for her vast role in different areas of development in the country.
Speaking to The New Times, MP Specioze Mukandutiye, a childhood friend and a colleague of the deceased, described her as a brilliant, hardworking and committed woman who struggled for the promotion of women rights.
“I studied with her and we entered in parliament together in 2003. She has been an advocate of women rights, she initiated the law against women violence, she loved her country so much but more to that, she was committed to promoting women rights,” said a sobbing Mukandutiye.
Mukandutiye is also the current chairperson of the Forum for Rwanda Women Parliamentarians (FFRP).
Desire Nyandwi a longtime colleague of the deceased said that she was a friendly person who was patriotic and committed to her work.
“We have lost a friend, a mother and a colleague. Parliament has lost one of its most important people and the country will live to miss her,” said Nyandwi.
He said that Kanakuze was last in Parliament sometime early December and was seized by sickness while in a meeting with her committee members.
She was immediately taken to hospital from where she has been until her death.
Kanakuze has been a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender and Family Promotion.
Born on September 19, 1959 in Rusizi District, Kanakuze holds a Bachelors of Social Sciences in Demography.
She served as a primary teacher from 1980 to 1982. She later worked as National Supervisor of Rwanda Nutritional Centres from 1986 to 1990.
From 1990 to 1992 Kanakuze served as the coordinator of household Energy saving Project /SNV. She later on worked with the then Ministry of Public Works (MINITRAPE) for two years as an official in charge of studies and Research.
After the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the deceased MP worked as the Director of DUTERIMBERE ASBL, a women cooperative, before becoming a Consultant for the National Women Network “Réseau des Femmes’ from 1998 to 2004.
From June 2000 to 2003, Kanakuze served as a Commissioner in the National Judicial and Constitutional Commission and thereafter was elected as an MP representing women.
She retained her parliamentary seat in 2008 but this time returned on the ticket of Rwanda Patriot Front (RPF-Inkotanyi).
She was the only civil society representative and one of only three women on the 12-member Judicial and Constitutional Commission.
As a gender expert and representative of the women’s movement in Rwanda, on this Commission Kankuze ensured the ratification of a remarkably gender-sensitive constitution.
During her time in parliament, she served in different committees and was at one time the Chairperson of FFRP.