Citizen Outreach: Kagame stresses accountability for leaders

President Kagame is greeted by thousands of residents of Musanze and Nyabihu districts on arrival at University of Rwanda’s Busogo Campus on Thursday. The President urged residents in his speech to make security, hygiene and socio-economic development their priorities. / Village Urugwiro

President Paul Kagame on Thursday urged residents and leaders in Musanze District to double efforts towards maintaining proper hygiene, ensure security, and work towards accelerated development of the region starting from households.

He also said that holding local leaders and central government officials to account will continue to be a hallmark of his leadership, saying a key duty of these officials is supporting citizens to solve their problems.

The President delivered the message at Busogo Stadium in Musanze where thousands of residents from the district and neighbouring Nyabihu District had gathered to welcome him.

The meeting took place during the second stop of his three-day tour of the Northern and Western provinces.

While assuring citizens that the country was secure, the President added that security is a key pillar for development.

He reminded the residents that they need to keep their communities safe, underlining that “tourists don’t go to unsafe places”.

“Our security is where we draw a red line, whoever crosses this line will face consequences. You should not allow anyone from inside or outside the country to jeopardise our security,” he said.

He pledged continued support of his government for citizens to get the services they deserve.

“We will keep working to address the challenges you face and look for the resources required to address them. What I ask of you is your involvement and to work even harder,” the President told the residents.

Musanze District residents line up to pose questions on Day II of President Kagame’s three-day tour of the Northern and Western provinces, on May 9 2019. / Village Urugwiro

In this region, the economy is based on modern farming, tourism, trade, and infrastructure development.

Though they are thankful for many pro-poor government policies such as the distribution of cows to the poor (Girinka programme) and community-based health insurance (Mutuelle de Santé), citizens expressed concerns about other challenges.

They include lack of electricity in some areas, asbestos roofs on certain public buildings, overcrowding in schools, and lack of a modern stadium.

Water-induced erosion from Volcanoes National Park is also a problem in Musanze, along with the issue of animals from the park that destroy farmers’ crops, delayed compensation for expropriation, and poor knowledge about how to process milk and sell it to markets.

President Kagame promised the residents that the Government will work to ensure that these challenges get solutions, especially by holding local leaders accountable so they can follow up on solving them.

“My commitment to you is to hold accountable those who are not delivering. Next time I visit, you can hold me accountable for it,” he said.

The Head of State also urged residents in Musanze and Nyabihu to uphold good hygiene, which was noted is still a challenge both in homes and generally in trading centres.

The Minister for Local Government, Anastase Shyaka, promised the President that local and central government leaders will work more diligently to address the issues raised by citizens.

During his ongoing three-day visit in Northern and Western provinces, the President is interacting with thousands of residents and held discussions with opinion leaders from across the two provinces.

He is today expected to conclude his tour with a meeting with residents in Western Province’s Rubavu District.