Govt cuts links with editor, UNR don
KIGALI - Finance Minister James Musoni has expressed regret for not having read the edited version of the recently released 2007 UNDP human development report on Rwanda before he launched it.
The controversial report, ‘Turning Vision 2020 into Reality: From Recovery to Sustainable Human Development’ was launched in Kigali weeks ago.
But it was immediately rejected by the Cabinet, which asked Musoni to refute it officially.
Incidentally, the minister did not only sign the report, but was also the chairman of the steering committee that oversaw its formulation, while UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Representative to Rwanda, Moustapha Soumare, was the co-chair.
“I signed the foreward of the report but at that time it was still a draft, which I had read and found no problem,” Musoni said in a recent interview.
He blamed the inaccuracies in the 107-page report on additional interpretations by the editor. The report was edited by Swede Sebastian Silva Leander.
Musoni said of Leander: “He is someone with whom the government has worked with before. I do not know what his motives were this time round but normally he used to be a good man.”
Musoni, who was also recently interrogated over a suspicious public fuel tender, said he had trusted the team that worked on the report to the end, a fact he however said had taught him a lesson.
“Had I been more cautious and revisited it (report) before the launch, it would probably have turned out differently,” he charged, adding: “I think what happened offers a lesson to all of us that we should always have a second eye.”
Asked whether he didn’t believe the contents of the report despite the cabinet’s official stand, Musoni said: “The figures used were obtained from our (Finance) ministry and those ones are accurate.
However, the editor’s interpretation which was added after my signature is what is not correct.”
He said that he voiced his disappointment to Soumare after reading the report.
He added that Soumare also admitted that certain information in the report was unfounded and misleading.
“I am really happy with how the UNDP Resident Representative responded, and I exonerate him from any responsibility. We jointly released an addendum specifying certain things in the report we think were not factual,” Musoni said.
Musoni said that his confidence had also been created by the fact that a lecturer from the National University of Rwanda (NUR), Dr Herman Musahara, was actively involved in all stages of the report formulation.
He disclosed that the government had taken a decision to cut links with both Leander and Musahara.
“We have blacklisted them and won’t associate with them in any business,” he said.
Musahara is one of the authors of last year’s contentious report, which discouraged President Paul Kagame from signing performance contracts with mayors.
Musoni also said that he had discussed the report with the President before the Cabinet considered it.
When contacted yesterday Moustapha said that the report “does not necessarily reflect the views of UNDP. It’s purely the responsibility of the authors.”
He said he has received an official protest from the government on certain issues in the report. He emphasized that the UN body’s addendum was in consideration of some inaccuracies in the report. The UNDP addendum cites some parts of the report which are questionable.
One of them is the claim that ‘despite rapid economic growth, poverty increased in one province and deepened in two provinces since 2001.’
The UN agency said in the addendum: ‘These increases are not statistically significant.
The statement may thus be revised to read ‘Despite rapid economic growth, progress in improving the average income of the poor has been disappointing in at least two provinces.’
The addendum also disputes the claim that there is exclusion of women from social and economic progress. ‘There is no evidence to suggest that women are being excluded from social or economic progress. The sentence should thus be ignored.’
The UNDP also rejected another claim in the report that 96 per cent of Rwandan women knowingly expose themselves to the risk of transmission, which shows deep-seated gender inequalities.
In reaction, the UNDP said: ‘This statement is factually incorrect since not all young women are sexually active or engaged in dangerous sexual practices.’
Also refuted is the assertion that the country’s high growth rates are deceptive in that they hide large and growing inequalities between social classes, geographic regions and gender.
On this claim, the addendum clarified: ‘The evidence regarding gender inequality is based on data from 2002 hence it does not take into account changes that have occurred after 2002.’ It also questions the relevance of the report’s claim that ‘in human development terms, Rwanda’s progress remains fragile’.
The UNDP said: ‘This statement is based on the latest available HDI (Human Development Index) data from the 2006 Human Development Report, referring to 2004 data. Hence, it does not take into account improvements in life expectancy, literacy and poverty that have occurred since 2004.’
The addendum has 28 corrections and clarifications on the conclusions of the report.
On a general note, UNDP said: ‘In the last decade, Rwanda has made significant progress in almost every aspect of its development (from health, to poverty reduction and education), which have enabled it to regain or surpass pre-1994 levels in main key development indicators.’