Talking of eschewing ostentatious occasions and needless expenditure, as a friend did the other day, reminds me of the lengths to which this government has gone to fight this malaise that’s the bane of African governments. From the word go, 1994, the government has fought to find all ways of saving taxpayers’ money from waste so as to, rather, channel it into what uplifts every single citizen. We in the citizenry have appreciated how the government has so studiously invested itself into this effort, but...! Not where one part of one particular commemoration ceremony was concerned. I talk for many when I say it’s part of the Liberation Day commemoration that I sorely miss. It was a mere skit, really, much as it showed that our liberators were capable of more than just using guns to rescue us and defend themselves. There is this happy couple out on a date, exchanging sweet nothings as they saunter along without any care in the world, as lovers are wont to. Unlike them, though, we in the stadium stands are apprehensive. Ahead, we can see a couple of hoodlums waylaying them and ready to jump them. As soon as the first goon jumps the young man, the lady, like a coiled black mamba, springs into action and yanks the second hood with her bag that he was trying to snatch. While the man is busy down and in the air with a flurry of kicks and punches with the other thugs, the lady is not whining. Her kicks, punches, handbag, bellowing skirt, all, are dazzling us now in the air, now on the ground, to turn the number of nasties into a groaning heap of shame-faced ‘have-beens’! The couple straighten and dust up and again link arms as if nothing happened, and off they go. But we digress....and who wouldn’t? We were on saving citizens from sun-baking or rain-soaking in open stadia or grounds during umpteen national ceremonies. And also about avoiding pointless expenses on exaggerated requirements. On the expense side, our government officials were particularly hit below the belt! They were the ones affected because they were going to lose on many erstwhile savoured freebies. Like what they called ‘ka-missions’. It used to be that when a government minister was sent on an official mission, they would take with them a whole train of courtiers, the latter who’d happily be at the official’s beck and call. The official could not so much as carry their own suitcase. That and similar others became a thing of the past. Our officials’ missions were trimmed so much that one ICT minister once recounted to us how other delegations were all amused to find a minister who had answers to everything and gave even better suggestions. They admired that, yes, but to imagine a minister without a single handler? In other delegations, the minister has an assistant for every specialised area in the narrowest of fields to answer questions and give suggestions. Government ministers are politicians, un point un trait, and often know zero about the ministry they oversee. Rwanda has national occasions to celebrate, of course. But who says there must be a ritualistic yearly celebration for every occasion? Tender suppliers and tender bidders will be the losers for it, no doubt, but there are other clean opportunities for them without private entrepreneurs colluding with government officials to become some kind of scum cartels. So, the guiding principle that has been the hallmark of this government, and its character, has been to be frugal on expenditure and lavish on profit-making ventures. As such, there is a reduction to a minimum and to the smallest possible size of local meetings. Even then, strictly when necessary. However, there is a rolling out of the red carpet and putting every requisite at the disposal of international conferences hosted here. It’s just the same way as all government officials must buy and maintain their own vehicles, while official international guests, including tourists, will be pampered to no end. Rwanda.Inc must be true to its nomenclature. Visits in and outside the country used to be open-ended, with no indication of when they were going to start or end. That’s a thing of the past and today, the days of travel that used to be included as the duration of the stay to be paid have been kissed goodbye. It’d become the habit that where different delegations met, they’d hatch up topics of discussion for the next meeting. And a different venue to visit, to the extent that the officials had become strangers to their own offices! A quorum for cabinet meetings had become a pipedream. Elections, the mother of money-suckers, what has been done to tame the beast? The government got an idea; provide campaign funds to all parties and maintain simple people-powered polls. That saves money and eliminates buying votes to ensure democratic elections. A wiser idea, I never heard of. So, the government has raised funds to provide safe habitation; feed school children; help vulnerable families; subsidise fertiliser, water, electricity, gas, and petrol, say it. A welfare state in Africa? You ain’t seen nopin’ yet!