As an agronomist, with a background in agriculture, Member of Parliament and RPF representative, Jean-Marie Vianney Gatabazi’s intentions were to follow that path. His plans were certainly not in politics.
However as an active youth in his home town of Byumba, voluntarily working with the youth, cultivators and tea-farmers and his active participation in sports, he slowly found his way into leadership as the vice chairperson of the National Youth Council which eventually paved his way into parliament.
“I was chosen to be the youth representative in parliament even though, that was not my ambition. I initially didn’t set out to be a politician but my voluntary activities earned me a seat in parliament,” he says.
The surprise however wasn’t a simple position. The gap from a mere volunteer in his hometown to the parliament was huge one. Luckily for him, the knowledge and mentorship acquired from the RPF cadreship, working with senior cadres in the RPF helped him adapt and the fact that he was actively engaged with communities in the various activities gave him an idea of what the people need.
“I also followed speeches by President Kagame from various meetings. I had the privilege to travel around the World where I met influential individuals and other communities. All this built my self-confidence and empowered me to participate to the best of my ability as a parliamentarian,” he says.
He later pursued a Masters degree in Strategic Management.
“We bear the responsibility of helping the people to improve their standard of living. Secondly, there is no way you can help or assist people without getting close to them, listen to them and clearly understand their problems and that’s the best way to make them aware of the opportunities that the government has presented them to solve the challenges they are facing.”
He describes his daily journey as a parliamentarian as being made possible by the fact that he understood and always tries to clearly understand Rwandans’ choices and fundamental ethical values they have to preserve.
“Citizens always need leaders that they trust to look up to. The belief in their leaders to be of great knowledge and have the ability to pass on their messages gives them hope and shapes their mindset as they strive to improve their lives.”
“Engaging with the community builds trust. Their trust in you promotes openness where they share their views, ideas, challenges, requests and suggestions withholding nothing. They also get to listen and understand what you tell them,” he says.
In the name of unity, the legislator has been a strong advocate of the Ndiumunyarwanda program. However, as a family man and father of four, he still wants to achieve another goal, striving to see Rwandan households living at peace.
“What has been achieved in the program so far is impeccable. We have succeeded in maintaining the Rwandan spirit,” he says.
“We however, need to improve the welfare of families where the husband and wife live and work together and strive to potentially use opportunities offered by the country to financially empower themselves. There is no development in a country where families are not stable and I feel it is one area we need to concentrate,” he says.
A social media enthusiast
He is an active user of social media too. He is regularly tweeting and posting about the country’s affairs. This has earned him popularity in the country. He reveals that he always sets time apart to research on matters happening in the country.
“My active participation on social media is driven from the great love and value I attach to my country and its people. I use the platforms to portray what Rwandans are truly achieving. I also post photos of the various places that I visit, to prove wrong false propagandists. I am always active for those who follow, read or will read about Rwanda,” he says.
Message to the youth
Gatabazi advises the youth to participate in community leadership, live the Rwandan spirit of dignity and have political role models.
“Rwandan youth have had the chance of great leadership. They ought to learn from the leaders, especially our president Paul Kagame. Our youth have to be characterized by the spirit of volunteerism mostly in activities that improve and promote the Rwandan community. This also calls for leaders to mentor them from an early stage.”
He adds that they should take up political positions available to them from an early stage and should feel free to ask questions regarding policies.
“They must, I insist, join in fighting against anyone who tries to break their unity starting right from an early stage because they are the ones who will be leading and protecting their country in the future. They must feel responsible for their own future by being part of the country’s solutions,” he says.