Governance Month: Participatory shaping of Rwanda’s destiny

By Thomas Kagera and Ladislas NGENDAHIMANA Good governance in Rwanda has become one of her many endearing trademarks, with all the values and pillars thereof accentuated by stakeholders at different levels of leadership.

By Thomas Kagera and Ladislas NGENDAHIMANA

Good governance in Rwanda has become one of her many endearing trademarks, with all the values and pillars thereof accentuated by stakeholders at different levels of leadership.

With the current encouraging levels of service delivery, the Ministry of Local Government (MINALOC) and the Rwanda Governance Board/Rwanda Governance Advisory Council with the responsibility of monitoring and promoting good governance; including promoting citizen participation in public policing , as well as monitoring service delivery, have not relented on the core functions of; institutional strengthening and coordination, national unity, reconciliation, peace and security, social welfare and empowerment of the Rwandan population, promotion of the private sector and involvement of civil society, strengthening local economic planning and financial management. 

It is against that background that the Ministry of local Government in partnership with Rwanda Governance Board has organized a Governance month from the 05th December 2011 to accentuate the values of participatory involvement. The major aim of this Governance Month, according to Mr Fred Mufulukye, the Director General, Territorial Administration and Governance in the Ministry of Local Government, is to engage the citizenry about the development issues taking place in the country.   

“We want to go there in the countryside, throughout all the 30 districts in the country, and stimulate good governance concerns: What are the people saying about service delivery—are they satisfied or are there any issues that require attention? What do the people appreciate and what do they not appreciate? We want to get down to the people and listen to them, learn from them, and come up with suggestions and actionable programs with them,” notes Mr Mufulukye.

The Ministry of Local Government in partnership with Rwanda Governance Board have organized this maiden governance month to assess how good governance can be strengthened by looking at issues; particularly service delivery and concerns and demands of ordinary citizens that need improvement and open debate between all stakeholders.

Strategies will also be adopted to address those issues through collective search for solutions during the process of which citizens and non-state actors (Civil Society Organizations) participation in enhancing and monitoring good governance particularly service delivery will be promoted.

The Governance month aims also at; (i) institutionalizing the Local Governance Monitoring System; (ii) rising awareness about Governance for Production concept; (iii) rising awareness on other key governance related issues such as transparency and accountability, anti-corruption, saving culture, etc and; (iv) finding solutions to people’s problems through governance clinics/clinics as a new innovative part of Mobile School of Governance that promotes demand driven approaches in  empowering lower levels of administration in findings solutions local governance challenges. The Mobile School of Governance is an innovation by the Rwanda Governance Advisory Council which is now transformed, along with the National Decentralization Implementation Secretariat, into the Rwanda Governance Board.

Official national launching
The national launching of the Governance Month takes place at Kinihira in Rulindo District, today, 13th December 2011. During the month, the Imihigo and other Good Governance values will be highly promoted among the citizenry.

Because the Governance Month will be a comprehensive fact-finding period and working towards evidence-based solutions, various institutions and ministries are involved, from the public, private sector and civil society organizations.  

Activities to be conducted
The activities to be carried out will be emphasizing the enhancement of good governance standards in local governments especially through the Mobile school of governance where citizen awareness and governance for production as well as problem solving will be conducted in all the 30 districts of the country.

The first phase of activities of the Mobile School of Governance having started on the 7th December 2011 will come to an end on 22nd December.

Initiated in 2009, the mobile School of Governance aims at promoting Good Governance and generating evidence for improved local governance.

The Mobile School of Governance will as well help in identifying problems through ‘Governance Clinics/screening’ as a new innovation that promotes unconventional methods in problem solving.

Governance Clinic/Screening
According to Mr Mufulukye, “’the Governance Clinic’ was invented with an aim of creating an interface where the local government and central government officials meet with the people, discuss issues critically and together identify the possible solutions. So the people participate in getting the solutions and feel confident when they realize that they contributed to the formulation of a policy that has solved the problems within their localities.”

During the ‘Governance Clinics’, the citizens will ask any questions of their choice and get instant feedback from the leaders. For those questions and or concerns that will not require instant answers, note will be taken of them and a follow-up made thereafter.

Being an additional pillar to Mobile School of Governance, the ‘Clinic/Screening’ will have the purpose of receiving and addressing issues and complaints raised by the citizens and tabled before the Rwanda Governance Board, MINALOC and other stakeholders. “It is believed this innovation will give a new impetus to the delivery of services for the citizens especially in rural areas.

The ‘Governance screening’ activities will particularly focus on the; Justice Sector,  the district transit centers—where the street children and other juveniles are handled before undergoing fully fledged rehabilitation, and arbitration cases as well as land sector.

One of the issues that will be looked at with keen interest is the sluggishness in the delivery of services. It is often said that procrastination is a disease that is eating into the fast and proficient delivery of services.

Local leaders, it is said, keep on sometimes postponing even the tiniest of their responsibilities that can be solved instantly with little ado. Through the ‘Governance screening’, this issue will be looked at very critically.
Even when it comes to issues like conflicts in the land ownership, registration especially of land in marshlands and other properties is another issue to be treated with utmost keenness.

Igniting civic participation and increasing on the level of involvement of citizens in the local government activities will too be brought to the fore. MINALOC and Rwanda Governance Board will develop a guiding document; establish teams (from various institutions) and a calendar for all districts. 

Competitions and debates
MINALOC in collaboration with Ministry of Sports and Culture have developed a comprehensive program to organize games, sports, cultural dances, songs, poems and debates.

Of great importance in line with good governance are the debates that are to involve university students, the program of which is to be developed in line with the Ministry of Education, Local government and the Rwanda Governance Board.

Local communities will be encouraged to debate on such issues and programs such as the one cow per poor family (Girinka), press freedom, political space and delivery of services, among others.

Activities calendar
• 5th December 2011: East African Local Authorities Sports and Culture Association (EALASCA) panel on good governance and decentralization at Kigali Serena Hotel;
• 5th – 9th December 2011: EALASCA Games hosted by City of Kigali;
• 13th December 2011: Governance month launching ceremony in Rulindo district;
• 14th – 16th December 2011:National Dialogue meeting (Inama y’igihugu y’umushyikirano);
• 7th – 22nd December 2011: Mobile School of Governance (MSG) in 15 districts;
• 13th – 15th December 2011: Identification of sites for MSG – governance screening/clinics;
• 23rd – 30th December 2011: Governance competition at district level and at Provincial level by 7th January 2012
• 4th – 12th January 2012: Debates on governance issues in Universities
• 4th – 27th January 2012: Governance screening/ clinics in all districts by Stakeholders at National level
• During the whole Governance Month districts and provincial authorities will conduct the screening in their own constituencies.
• 30th January 2012: Closing ceremony of the governance month in Kigali

Closing of the Governance Month
On the 30th January 2012, the Governance Month will come to an end with a High Level Meeting on Governance Assessment and award to the best performers in poems, songs and debates.

This Meeting’s primary purpose is to review, and draw time-line and draw actionable programs to improve on areas where weaknesses were found.

This being the maiden Governance month, it is planned that it will be an annual event because of the intended benefits to both the government and the citizenry. 


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