One’s marital status has nothing to do with the post of President

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A resident of Rebero in Kigali casts her vote during a past local election. (File)

Editor, 

RE: “Rwanda’s political system is participatory and inclusive” (The New Times, July 12).

Why should Rwandans demand that anyone seeking to become their president should be married? Not only would that be discriminatory on an entirely needless basis (and also no doubt therefore anti-constitutional), I also don’t see how marital status is relevant to someone’s ability to carry out their presidential duties. And, any assumption that a single person is more susceptible to honey-pot entanglements is entirely spurious, and not supported by empirical evidence.

How many married people that we know who are engaged in illicit adulterous relationships. Why, then shouldn’t we also disqualify married candidates to avoid the risk of adulterous behaviour that might, in fact unlike singles, expose them to blackmail?

Ms. Diane Rwigara has disqualified herself from competing for the presidency through her own and her supporters’ illegal actions of presenting fraudulent papers to the National Electoral Commission purportedly signed by living people to support her candidacy when they had in fact died long before. This is both a criminal and an unethical act, for which legal sanctions are warranted.

In addition, wrack my brains as much as I can, I cannot see any achievements — in neither the public nor private sphere — that would qualify her to be even the head of umudugudu, let alone that of Rwanda. Even then, I would have had no issue for her to stand had she fulfilled all the requirements for her to do so.

In a president of our country we elect a chief executive of Rwanda, Inc., not a pope. The person we elect must be a person of proven integrity, an upright man or woman, who has a track record against which both their character and their ability to perform in difficult circumstances can be ascertained.

Such a person needs to be a pragmatist who makes sure things that are good for us are done, but who also has a demonstrated moral backbone. I would argue in fact that to be able to help us achieve what we have done so far in extraordinary conditions that would have broken most people and put paid to most states, the incumbent needed to have an exceptional moral fortitude and an exceptional knack to unerringly lead us onto the right path every time we reached crossroads.

I sometimes wonder at the personal sacrifice that must have been involved in order to carry that incredible load all that distance, over uncharted paths while carrying the burdens of an entire people over his shoulders — and without complaint.

But, I digress. We are talking of a secular leader of a country, not a spiritual guru. Candidates’ characters must be of undoubted moral fabric. But whether they be married or single is irrelevant. And lest you think this is special self-pleading, I myself am happily married.

Mwene Kalinda