Visiting S. African MPs look to learn how to empower citizens

How does Rwanda involve citizens in governance and maximise their contributions toward keeping communities safe and clean? How does the country keep all members of society involved in development?
Mekgwe (left) chats with Mukabalisa at Parliament yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira
Mekgwe (left) chats with Mukabalisa at Parliament yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira

How does Rwanda involve citizens in governance and maximise their contributions toward keeping communities safe and clean? How does the country keep all members of society involved in development?

These and more are some of the lessons that visiting South African legislators hope to learn from Rwanda.

The head of the delegation of four MPs from Gauteng provincial parliament, Lentheng Helen Mekgwe, told the media yesterday that their trip to Rwanda will improve their understanding of how to boost citizen responsibility, and empower women, and cultivate good relations between the two countries.

“We think we are a maturing democracy in South Africa and we need to learn from others. We must build a peaceful Africa and it’s going to come from sharing experiences between us,” she said.

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Donatille Mukabalisa, speaker of parliament, meets the South African delegation. / Timothy Kisambira
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Donatille Mukabalisa, speaker of parliament, presents a gift to her South African counterpart Lentheng Helen Mekgwe. / Timothy Kisambira

Among others, Mekgwe said, they will seek to understand how Rwandans manage to keep its streets clean through community work (Umuganda) every month, involve women in national leadership, and keep political confrontations at bay.

“We are interested in knowing how you do it. In our country, people would ask you how much you will pay them to go out and clean their neighbourhoods but here people are happy to volunteer. We want to know how you did it,” she said of Umuganda.

Located in north-eastern South Africa, Gauteng is one of the most densely populated and most urbanised provinces in the country and hosts the Capital Pretoria, and Johannesburg, the nation’s largest city and economic hub.

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Visiting South African delegates meet with Senators yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira

The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Donatille Mukabalisa, said that the visit by the South African lawmakers is an opportunity for both sides to learn from each other and to further boost relations between the two countries.

“The fact that they came to learn from Rwanda on the good things we have achieved is encouraging. We also learn from them when they come here, we can pick the good things they have achieved and use them,” she said.

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Lentheng Helen Mekgwe, speaker of the Gauteng Provincial legislature, presents a gift to her Rwandan counterpart Donatille Mukabalisa. / Timothy Kisambira

Cooperation and openness

Mukabalisa told the visiting MPs that good cooperation between citizens and leaders remains the key to achieving good results in governance and sustainable development.

Senate president Bernard Makuza said Rwandan leaders are always ready to share their experiences with other people in Africa and from around the world as they also try to learn from them.

“One of our aims is to contribute where we can. Where we have made good achievements we are willing to share with others and also learn from them the good things they have achieved,” he said.

One of the shining examples that Rwanda has to share with other countries is how to involve women in politics as the country remains a global leader in women’s representation in parliament with women currently occupying 62 per cent of seats in the country’s Chamber of Deputies and 38 per cent in the Senate.

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South African delegates follow proceedings in parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

Among other entities to be visited by the delegation during their weeklong tour include Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, the Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs, Rwanda Cooperatives Agency, and Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, Gisozi.

In August, a delegation of 18 persons from Johannesburg also visited on a similar mission.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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