MP candidates should make promises they will keep

This has been a year of elections on the African continent, Rwanda inclusive. With most having taken place under a climate of violence and drama, Rwanda is not worried of travelling down that route.

The difference is that Rwanda’s politics are not of the confrontational type that has been taken by some people as a sign of true democracy. Random and premeditated political violence is no democracy at all, neither is coercing electors through threats of violence.

That is what sets Rwanda electoral system apart; the whole process is like one huge celebration. There is no stone throwing, vandalism or tear gas. In fact, for most media outlets, Rwandan elections are very boring because people seem to be reading from the same script.

The in-coming MPs should be aware that they will be carrying the reputations of the parties on their backs during their duties. Unlike some parliamentary systems where an MP represents a given constituency and is therefore accountable to them, every misstep is personal; it does not implicate the party.

Members of Parliament in those kinds of systems like the one practiced in the region go to great lengths to hold on to their seats and all holds are permissible; vote buying, rigging and fomenting violence. That is the origin of teargas, running battles with the police and looting.

While we may argue that our electoral system is safe, MPs need to tread carefully. Their actions implicate their whole political organisations, down to the pledges and promises they make while on the campaign trail.

One day they may be called to account and when they fail, they will have failed their political family and it could be fatal in the next elections.

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