Editorial: New Mayor needs to deal with greedy local leaders in earnest

It seems that residents of “Bannyahe”, a slum in Kigali, have lost their battle to be compensated in monetary terms instead of exchanging their slum dwellings for new houses being built in Busanza on the outskirts of Kicukiro District.

The new City Mayor, Pudence Rubingisa, has announced that the first batch will be relocated in November. Unlike other poor neighbourhoods, Bannyahe is fairly young and came out of nowhere, but it also indicated the presence of corruption among local leaders.

A few notes would be exchanged and the leader would look the other way. In a short while, it had engulfed three villages.

The slum is an eyesore tacked next to one of KigaIi’s posh neighbourhoods and has attracted the attention of a developer who offered to build them a modern neighbourhood in exchange. The city was only too willing to see someone else assume the burden of relocating the illegal dwellings.

But some residents are still holding out waiting for the outcome of a court case they filed seeking money instead of houses.

Bannyahe is the outcome of corruption at the grassroots level, especially in neighbourhoods not yet mapped on the City Masterplan.

Every now and then, complete houses are demolished citing lack of building permits and one wonders where the local leaders were when the house was being put up. But that is no mystery; some of the local leaders are the ones who blow the whistle, not out of patriotic duty, but because they missed out on the “cake”.

Those are the people the new Mayor should go after otherwise the city and its outskirts will have many more Bannyahes.