Zimbabwe’s minister ‘moved’ by Rwanda’s unity, reconciliation gains

Sithembiso Nyoni (right) receives a gift from Donatille Mukabalisa at Parliament Building in Kigali, Thursday. Photo/ Sam Ngendahimana.

Rwandans defied the dire consequences of ethnic discrimination and genocide which had destroyed social cohesion to become more united, which is a valuable lesson to draw from, said Minister for Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Sithembiso Nyoni made the remarks on Thursday in Kigali as she led a delegation from Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF), which paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Chamber of Deputies of Rwanda, Donatille Mukabalisa.

Nyoni, who is also a member of a parliament in Zimbabwe, said; “I learnt about the processes of empowering poor communities, uniting a nation so that you move towards one goal, which is very important in our situation.”

She added; “I was moved almost to tears to see how a nation which in 1994 was in pieces, and is now the most united. Your barometer was 10 per cent in terms of unity and reconciliation, but now, you’re at 94 per cent…and that really shows what could happen if you have political will at the top, with everybody following that”.

The 2015 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s findings showed that on average reconciliation among Rwandans was at 92.5 per cent from 82.3 per cent in 2010.

Nyoni said she hoped that, through their party, government and other institutions that she has been in contact with as a minister and also as a political actor, they will be able to put these lessons into effect.

“In Zimbabwe, we have that hope. We are in a new dispensation and our new leader, comrade Emmerson Mnangagwa, is really trying to mobilise our people towards one goal of uniting politics, economics, peace, unity and love for each other to come first,” she said.

Mukabalisa said that approaches that have enabled Rwanda to develop should be able to contribute to the development of Africa in general.

She said that Rwanda experienced bad history (including the genocide against the Tutsi), “which we do not want to see repeat itself”.

“The progress we have made in terms of unity and reconciliation for Rwandans is a good practice that other African countries can learn from so that we all continue to have unity as Africans in order to develop,” she said, pointing out that the two countries envisage strengthening their parliamentary collaboration and sharing experiences, for the benefits of their peoples.

Nyoni said, “I was very impressed with what the Rwandan parliament is doing, first of all, they have the highest representation of women MPs in the world, and women are always very clear as to what they want.”  “In Zimbabwe, we have good laws that protect women, but  in terms of enforcement and the implementation of those laws, we are still behind.  I think we need to learn a lot,” she observed.