Today we vote our legislators

Today, Rwandans will vote for their Parliamentary representatives. The Parliamentary hopefuls until September 13 played their part. They combed the whole country in search of votes, trying to use their wits to convince the electorate that their Party was more representative of its needs and that if voted into Parliament, they would take Rwanda to greater heights.

Today, Rwandans will vote for their Parliamentary representatives. The Parliamentary hopefuls until September 13 played their part. They combed the whole country in search of votes, trying to use their wits to convince the electorate that their Party was more representative of its needs and that if voted into Parliament, they would take Rwanda to greater heights.

It’s amazing but not surprising how the campaigns here were peaceful. It’s interesting seeing political rallies that leave nature intact. Elsewhere, I have seen trees de-limbed in the name of party cheering. People run around with branches, singing party songs and yelling at whoever is not with them. One would think that the tree branches were party symbols. That’s elsewhere, not in Rwanda.

What people waved around were their party symbols, banners, t-shirts, caps…but not tree branches. Rwandans should give themselves a pat on the back for respecting nature and not ripping it apart.

To me, broken branches and branch wavers symbolize intimidation and oppression. I have seen people in some parts of the world use these very branches to beat up those ‘not with them’.

I have heard of governments that set up ‘Kiboko Squads’ (to beat up those not supporting their party). I define such acts as ironic and absurd. How do you explain oppressing your opponent in the name of ‘democracy’?

We as Rwandans should count our blessings. We should cherish the peace we are now enjoying. And the only way to express this is by valuing our vote. Sometimes, people tend not to take certain things seriously. Voting shouldn’t be one of them.

Rwandans for many years were disenfranchised. It’s not until 1994, when they were liberated from a dictatorship that had brainwashed them that they began getting the we-can-make-it sense. A lot had to be reconstructed - institutions, communication, international relations, tourism, a sense of self worth and much more.

We should therefore give this day the importance and seriousness it deserves. We should reflect on the power of our vote and not just imagine others will vote. Your vote should count and it’s up to you.

It’s amazing how some people get so lazy, they imagine it’s up to the rest to vote. This is a terrible mentality. If a person won’t take part in such an important activity, how do we know whether they even support the government’s developmental plans!

According to the African Union, holding free, fair, transparent and credible elections is a cornerstone for the promotion of democracy and good governance in the continent. So, your vote will not only promote those two in your country but will also rub off to the entire continent.

Just that ‘simple’ act of dipping your thumb in ink and pressing it against the party of your choice!

I would like to commend the National Electoral Commission for the good job it has done so far. It has done a great job of informing all Rwandans on how to handle themselves during the campaigns, how and where to get their voting cards, how to handle themselves during elections and a lot more. We hope this continues until elections end and results read.

There are various election observers; the European Union, African Union, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Rwanda Civil Society, NEC itself, local media, security bodies and even Rwandans themselves.

Election observers, I suppose, should be as impartial as possible. They should report what they see or rather what they observe and not what they ought to have seen or observed. 

The campaigns were very peaceful. There was no hooliganism. No ‘Kiboko Squads’. Business was not stalled. I see this as a positive sign. It’s unfortunate that some Observers are misinterpreting this orderliness to mean oppression. At least that’s what I have read from some media reports.

To such short sighted ‘Observers’, I say you are in for a lot of disappointment. Rwandans know what they want. They want democracy, peace, development, wealth, freedom of movement, speech and a lot more. They will not be dragged into divisive politics.

I hope the EU Observer Mission and its ‘Core Team’ have resolved their issues. They should open their eyes and see Rwanda the way she is and not as they wish she were. I hope they have not yet already ‘completed’ their election reports drawn from their assumptions.

Anyway, whatever they write, I will go dip my thumb in ink and vote the party of my choice today. As many Rwandans will do. Be sure, there will be no blood shed or a return to the ugly past. If you value your vote, then let’s go vote.

Contact: jbugabo@yahoo.com

 

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