Senate to summon premier over living conditions for the historically marginalised

Senator Consolée Uwimana during the presentation of the report yesterday. Sam Ngendahimana.

The Senate,yesterday, resolved to summon Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente to explain why Rwandans considered to be ‘historically marginalised’ have continued to be poor while having limited access to education.

The senators also want to know what the Government is doing to fix the challenges facing this group of Rwandans.

The decision came at the end of a senatorial plenary session  after an adhoc committee set up to look into the issues presented a report calling for an overhaul in the approach used to provide support to this group, especially in the areas of education and poverty reduction.

The committee president, Consolée Uwimana, said that their work took them to all the country’s 30 districts within two months.

The findings show that while the number of the historically marginalised is very small, the challenges they were facing were of great magnitude.

“They have very many problems but among them, we found that their children are not going to school, they are being placed in the wrong Ubudehe (stratification) categories which in the process deprives them of opportunities, they continue to lose their land at the hands of fraudsters, and face high levels of ignorance discrimination,” she said.

Uwimana said that these problems are mostly compounded by ambiguous working relations between grassroots leaders, nongovernment organisations, associations dealing with the historically marginalised people, and the failure by local leaders to carry out sensitisation and follow-ups on policies targeting this group of people.

She also pointed out that there was need to set up proper channels through which any support that is issued to the historically marginalised is closely monitored to avoid risks of falling in the wrong hands.

Uwimana reminded her colleagues that though the Government tried to fix some of the issues, some of the support went to waste when no assistance was given regarding how best the beneficiaries could safeguard what they had been given or how to make it more productive.

Senator Zephyrin Kalimba told his colleagues that there was need to address the issue of stigma, which has triggered migration of the historically marginalised from their homes.

“The fact that these people are going to settle in neighbouring countries is testimony that the issue of discrimination should be dealt with before it becomes a bigger issue in our communities,” he said.

Senator Marie Claire Mukasine said that, after all the country has achieved, such issues should be giving leaders sleepless nights.

“We have managed to eradicate thatched houses, we have built schools, and we have achieved many milestones. Looking at how hard the leadership of this country works to accord citizens what they deserve, I will place blame on the local leaders and their failure to make sure that their people get what has been allocated to them,” she said.

According to official figures, before 1994, there were 45,000 people in this category. The number has since fallen to between 34,000 and 38,000 people.

According to the Ministry of Local Government, this translates into 2 marginalised persons per 1000 inhabitants.