Rwandans will go to the polls on September 3, 2018 to elect Members of Parliament who will represent them and the nation’s interests during the next five years.
It is a very important milestone that nobody should miss.
Subsequently, special interest groups, namely; youth, women and persons with disabilities shall, through the college system, elect their representatives to Parliament.
All these series of elections will finally make an inclusive Lower House, where no one is left behind.
This inclusiveness in Rwanda’s post-Genocide governance is unique and has proved to be effective and efficient, and credited for successful journey of transformation thus far.
Rwanda’s aim is not to become a country where the winner takes it all. And that is the reason behind the representation of the specific groups in all decision-making positions.
This being said, the Constitution of 2003 as amended in 2015, made it clear for the Executive.
For instance, the political organisation that wins majority seats in Parliament is not allowed to have more than fifty per cent in the Cabinet.
When it comes to Rwanda’s historical governance, I avoid drawing comparisons and parallelism simply because; it would be like comparing two different “worlds”.
The reality is that; Rwanda today is a united country, with inclusive leadership and governance systems, providing for equal rights and opportunities to everyone. That is the essence of politics.
The international politics tell us that, worldwide, the Parliament has a threefold mandate; representation of the population, legislation for national laws, and government oversight.
What makes the difference is how people reconcile the aforementioned principles with their daily practice and national values to come up with an inclusive style of governance.
In classic democracies, parliamentary campaigns are marred with intimidation and harassment, so much so that an electoral season leaves behind an entirely divided country, and the winners concentrate their work on consolidating their power base at times at the expense of people’s lives, especially those who did not vote for them.
On the other hand, in developmental democracies, which are mainly inclusive, people come first.
Political parties and their ideologies are people-centered. Their manifestos are realistic and practical, and their campaigns become the landmark for citizens’ self-realisation.
In Rwanda, it is good that parliamentary elections have this time round come after the presidential elections that were held last year, 2017.
Last year, President Kagame and the RPF Inkotanyi presented a citizen-centered manifesto, which was overwhelmingly voted with over 98% of the vote. They, subsequently, formed government which has now embarked on the journey of transformation and sustainable development.
All political organizations and parliamentary candidates understand what is at stake; consolidation of what has been achieved, and socio-economic transformation for self-reliance and Rwandans’ dignity.
During the last Parliament term, Rwandans heard a lot about the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and it is a reality that; some believed the Parliament’s work was summarised around the PAC’s work. That would be erroneous. Indeed, PAC did a very good job, but the Parliament was not only about PAC.
In many other countries, Parliament is for party-centered interests. In Rwanda, it is about people, voice and accountability, and it is about inclusive people-centered legislation.
On the campaign trail all is going well – at least thus far. Aspirants have been respectful to each other. Political organizations keep fronting their manifestos, some of them making non-realistic and non-workable promises, such as scrapping land taxes and others.
It is very important to educate the people on what they need to do for self-reliance.
Political parties should campaign, mobilise the public, but, above all, avoid empty promises that would take us backward.
The role of the leaders, especially the parliamentarians, is to work with the people for self-reliance. Thus, legislation shall not be party-centered but people-centered.
President Kagame has proved to remain the man of the people because he has consistently avoided making empty promises, and so is the RPF-Inkotanyi. They both urge every Rwandan to play their role in national development. Yes, our partners will come in to support but never to replace the people.
The journey continues. This is the time for self-determination if we really want national development to be expedited. We requested President Kagame to stand again, and we voted him. This is the time to show our unreserved support to his developmental agenda.
Parliament is not a place for petty politics, it is about people, and a dignified people.
Dignity comes from inclusive participation and self-reliance. The best offer to the people is by putting everyone before their responsibilities. And, by doing so, we elect a people-centered parliament.
Democracy is a platform to dignify yourself. This is the time!
Ladislas Ngendahimana is a political analyst and member of the PanAfrican Movement Rwanda Chapter
Twitter @NLadislasFollow https://twitter.com/NLadislas