Today, the Rwanda Olympic Committee and Sports Committee (RNOSC) will get new leaders who will serve for the next four years.
Voters will be left with little to choose from for the positions that have unopposed candidates; one of them is former permanent secretary in the now-defunct Ministry of Internal Security, Amb. Valens Munyabagisha, who is standing for the post of RNOSC president.
This comes after the incumbent Robert Bayigamba, the former minister for sports, youth and culture, decided not to seek re-election citing personal reasons.
Two candidates, Claire Deborah Ingabire and Felicite Rwemalika, will contest for the position of 1st vice president, while Elie Manirarora surprisingly pulled out of the race for the position of 2nd vice president, leaving cycling federation vice president Festus Bizimana to remain as sole the candidate for this post.
The other posts that are up for grabs include that of secretary general for which the incumbent Philbert Rutagengwa faces competition from former National Paralympics Committee president Dominique Bizimana, while Alice Ingabire is standing unopposed for the post of treasurer.
With several key positions having just a single candidate, surely, this year’s elections won’t be breathtaking, but that is not very important, perhaps the key issue is what the next executive committee will bring on the table.
Ahead of today’s elections, I met Amb. Munyabagisha on Thursday to hear about his plans for Rwandan sports if he becomes the next RNOSC as expected.
“We need to put more effort in promoting women sports, assist member federations to obtain sponsorships, and introduce a sports culture among the population, which is one of the biggest concerns in Rwandan sports,” he said.
The other issues he highlighted include; the introduction of sports to the youth at an early age aimed at building a winning spirit early on as well as improving the way local sports federations are managed, and fighting corruption and witchcraft tendencies within the sports fraternity.
He noted: “We don’t need to fabricate things yet we can find answers to all our problems. We need to look at how things are done and handled in other developed countries, for instance what to do if one is caught offering a bribe. We shall use best practices to solve such problems. Besides, corruption is a crime punishable by law.”
Munyabagisha’s goals don’t seem to be much different from those of his outgoing predecessor Bayigamba, who also promised much when he took over from Brig. Gen. Charles Rudakubana, who was elected in 2009 to replace Igace Beraho.
His campaign promises sound very familiar to those of his two predecessors and he’s performance will be judged on specific issues such as whether or not Rwanda wins its first Olympic medal, starting with the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Rwanda competed in eight Summer Games but we have never won an Olympic medal. However, Jean de Dieu Nkundabera won a Paralympic bronze medal for Rwanda in athletics at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in Athens.
Change is needed in the national Olympic committee if the country is to end the Olympic medal drought, but that will only happen if we have visionary leadership at the apex of sports in the country.
The country is yearning for sports leaders who are committed to excellence, national pride and transformation of local sports federations into professional entities.
Well, let’s hope that RNOSC, under Amb. Munyabagisha, will live up to the high expectations of Rwandans.