The Ministry of Justice yesterday launched weeklong activities to celebrate 10 years of mediation committees (Abunzi).
The story of Abunzi is extraordinary in the Rwandan context. It’s an example of the extent to which homegrown solutions have contributed to building justice and reconciliation in the country.
Peaceful conflict resolution in communities is now synonymous with Abunzi. In fact, most ordinary people at the grassroots prefer the model compared to the mainstream justice system which is usually characterised by delays and associated legal costs.
When one listens to stories of ordinary people, one cannot help but conclude that Abunzi have also played a critical role in promoting unity and reconciliation.
Stories of peaceful conflict resolution dominate the narrative of Rwandans when referring to mediation committees. They have endeared themselves to the local population and the fact that the concept was drawn from the Rwandan tradition of solving problems through community dialogue, has been easy for communities to embrace it.
The Abunzi model has cut the number of cases filed in courts and ultimately reduced backlogs.
Before the introduction of mediation committees, any form of misunderstanding ended up in courts. It would also breed hatred among warring parties. But that is not the case with Abunzi as records indicate that 80 per cent of Rwandans are happy with the work done by the committees.
The moral of the Abunzi success story is that solutions to Rwanda’s problems are in our midst. We should not look outside the country for solutions.