As the august 3-4 presidential elections draw closer, Rwandans living in China have intensified a drive to mobilise funds to facilitate those that may not afford to travel to Beijing to cast their vote.
Members of the Diaspora will vote on Thursday, August 3, and, according to Chinese laws, the vote in that country can only be cast at the embassy, which is in the capital Beijing.
This is different from other countries, where on polling day, some embassies will have more than one polling sites, to ensure they get close to as many voters as possible.
There are 1,500 Rwandans living across 27 Chinese cities, and some of the voters will brave 72 hours of travel or an average of eight on high speed trains.
Those planning to fly to Beijing will spend between three and five hours of flight time depending on where they are coming from.
The vice president of the Rwandan community in China, Placide Uwonkunda, told The New Times that the drive is an initiative of members of RPF Inkotanyi living in China.
He said that most RPF members in the country are students.
“This election is very important for Rwandans. It is against this background that members of (RPF-Inkotanyi) with the means are supporting those without to ensure that they are all able to exercise their right to vote,” Uwonkunda said.
He added that fundraising has been done through social media platforms such as WeChat and Whatsapp.
“Up to now we have collected $11,000 which will facilitate over 700 people to travel and get accommodation,” he said
Some of the contributions came from business persons operating in China.
In an interview, Jean Marie Vianney Nzamwita, the Country Representative of Jacaju Speed China Ltd, a Rwandan owned firm said that their members were still contributing funds to facilitate as many people as possible to vote.
“We started this campaign a few weeks back but during our last meeting, we found that we still needed more money to cater for accommodation of those that will come from the distant areas,” he added.
He said that Rwandan businesses were more than happy to assist adding that they took it as a corporate social responsibility.
Rwanda’s Diaspora Community is often referred to as the country’s sixth province and has about 50,000 registered voters.
The presidential election will pit the incumbent, President Kagame, against two other candidates; Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda; and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.