AS RWANDA last week joined the world to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8, The New Times published two opinions that caught my eye.One was by the UN resident coordinator, Lamin Manneh (Equality for women is progress for all), and the other by the AfDB country representative, Negatu Makonnen (IWD: call for financial inclusion for women).
Both authors did a great job of showing the progress women have made economically, politically and socially. But, what they did even better was to show the role of the institutions they represent and the commitment to even do better.
As a Rwandan, it was informative to read what international organisations are doing in my country as well as the impact of their work. That’s accountability.
However, they left me wondering, where are the Rwandan organisations? Where were the Rwandan Nyakubahwa’s (honourables)? We would love to hear from them what they have done over the last year, where they want us to be and what influences the decisions they make. That too is accountability.
The International Women’s Day would be an ideal occasion for the Chief Gender Monitor or the Minister of Gender to write something for the Rwandan people.
There is no doubt they may be doing an excellent job, but the leaders must learn that they are accountable to the people as well.
Rwanda is fortunate to have leadership that closely follows up on performance of civil servants. And I bet, with the annual national leadership retreats among other such forums, the various institutions report on their performance to their appointing authority or benefactors of their programme.
However, the bayozi (leaders) should also learn to report to the public, and one great way to do this is to publish and react to what is published.
For instance, if it is Governance Month, we should hear from the Rwanda Governance Board about what they are doing, what worked, the challenges they faced, et cetera. You never know, one reader may have an excellent solution.
Let’s not leave such work to only international organisations or their representatives. Rwandans should love their country more than anyone else and what partners do should just complement the work being done by the Rwandan people for the Rwandan people.
Is it that we lack intellectuals or experts who can publish? I doubt it. If the appointing authority has trust in you to deliver, we believe you have the expertise to smartly handle public scrutiny.
And, in an era of technology and stiff competition, there is little or no room for poor communicators.
And, the same principle should apply when there is need to set the record straight. Just a couple of weeks ago, the Rwandan Social Security Board (RSSB) was in the news following a decision to invest in luxury housing.
For contributors to the pension fund, the least they deserve is justification from the fund managers showing the rationale why certain decisions were made.
And if the justification is weak, they should be accountable for the poor decisions in addition to informing their contributors what they are doing about the faux decision.
Another example is the feud between pay TV companies Star Media and Go TV. Subscribers were unable to watch TV as a result of poor or no signal at all. Where is RURA? As the regulator they should come clean and let us know what is going on and what they are doing about it.
Those are just few examples of how those in leadership positions should be accountable to the people. Otherwise, the habit of keeping silent or only reporting to the appointing authority can easily be perceived as disrespectful to the ordinary people you serve.
The bayobozis must pick up the habit of reporting to the muturage (common man) and the media should do more to put them to task where they do not measure up.
We must get into the habit of communicating efficiently. Public organs can go a step further and adopt policies of proactive disclosure. They should keep their websites active, publish annual reports, plans and the like. That too is accountability.
Show us you care – that’s all we ask for now.
The author is a social commentator based in Kigali.