Election anxiety grips Rwanda

“I am number sixteen on the candidates’ list. However, they told me that I am likely to push nearer to number one, as some candidates are expected to drop out. But the way I see the new list, nothing is going to change in my favour”, Jack (not real name), an aspiring candidate, told his friends as he observed the candidates list in The New Times.

“I am number sixteen on the candidates’ list. However, they told me that I am likely to push nearer to number one, as some candidates are expected to drop out. But the way I see the new list, nothing is going to change in my favour”, Jack (not real name), an aspiring candidate, told his friends as he observed the candidates list in The New Times.

This candidate’s face was worn with fear, stress, and a mixture of other indefinable emotions. Which is why, the kind of anxiety we are going to refer in this context is one that troubles the state of mind due to the feelings of worry and apprehension; where worry implies persistent doubt or anxiety, and apprehension refers to fear.

The on-going campaign of parliamentarians has raised a lot of anxiety amongst the Rwandan people. The electorate flock campaign sites to hear what the candidates have to say to them in terms of development promises.

Rwandans who are growing politically mature are so demanding, hence putting candidates to great tasks. Most people actually want future parliamentarians to work and be evaluated under the system of performance contracts (Imihigo).

Though such demands sound unrealistic, especially on the surface, they hold some water. All one needs is to properly read between the lines of demands and come up with a clear understanding of what people want.

People for example want future legislators to go down to the districts and villages, identifying with the people and their problems. In this way, the parliamentarians will be able to work with hands on experience, promote people-based development projects and policies.

Tomorrow’s parliament will definitely work under different circumstances, because we are not stagnant, but developing. And so the need to be more equipped with fresh tools to handle the emerging new challenges.

“Our parliamentarians worked extremely well, but we expect the new ones to work even harder,” said President Paul Kagame while officially dissolving the parliament recently.

Historically, and typical of many other developing countries, joining the parliament means getting rich at the expense of the electorate. But this trend drastically changed since the oust of the regime that created such an environment in Rwanda.

However, some people do not seem to accept, so the future will tell them. Moreover, if such people still exist, then they are so isolated.

“Though the parliament is not a source of poverty, it should not be seen as a source of riches. In the past, Rwandans used to call whoever had a big belly, a member of parliament (depute)”, lamented Alfred Mukezamfura, the out-going speaker of parliament.

By giving such observations, the speaker was not only confirming what some people still believe, but also forewarned aspiring candidates of what is expected of them. Hard work and meeting people’s expectations is what people are waiting from the candidates.

The ‘big belly’ mentality from the electorate is the biggest challenge we are left with. This is why the street talk calls future parliamentarians to work under performance contracts (Imihigo) as I said earlier.

Nonetheless, such ‘complex demands’ from the electorate cause positive anxiety, a thing that would allow the government to scheme further for the betterment of the whole country.

Anxiety actually grips the nation with high expectations over  the elections in particular. Look at what is happening in the US- National Democratic Convention, in  Denver, where Obama is to be officially nominated by the party’s main stream.

Anxiety and fear could be seen in the eyes of the people, as Hillary Clinton gave her long-awaited speech. It was a speech meant to either unite or keep the Democrats apart, which is why Hillary herself, was under pressure.

In fact, some words she mentioned in her speech, will give hard time to both Democrats and Republicans. I mean they could be constructive and destructive to either party. You know she is a good orator! 

“… We have had eight years of plunder….No way, no how, no McCain… You made me laugh and made cry…,” the emotional Hillary, said amidst big applause from the Democrats.

In Rwanda, anxiety from the candidates comes from the fear to lose while the electorate goes beyond, to also fearing choosing the wrong candidate. I am not making US comparisons, but highlighting the similarity in the general electoral anxiety.

All these notwithstanding, Rwandans of voting age should know that they have an obligation to vote. Their choice will determine and shape the nation for more years to come. Anxiety or no anxiety, our actions will determine our destiny.

Contact: mugitoni@yahoo.com

 

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