Fred Mufulukye and Dr Joseph Karemera authored articles in The New Times published on January 19, and February 9, respectively, highlighting numerous salient features of our political direction and the need to change the constitution to allow the exemplary leadership of President Paul Kagame to deliver more for Rwandans.
I strongly hold a similar view, and my stone cast conviction in no change is informed by our heinous past which left an indelible mark on our conscience, and no time, positions, privileges, and other consolations can change this wounded conscience of a people as a result of our heinous past.
My belief is reinforced by our present and how it has been shaped and transformed by the leadership of President Kagame
Stability Vs Continuity
Although the two are inseparable, we need to ponder on stability with regard to our context. Anyone can assume office, and ‘assure’ us continuity. But, continuity of what? In many developing as well as developed countries, the population falls prey to continuity of seemingly stable environments only to find out later that the leaders in place don’t have the qualities to guarantee the same. They only fall victims of rhetoric (a high value currency typical of political world) only to find out that, delivery and rhetoric have an inverse relationship. Not so with regard to Rwanda.
In fact some of us who have been fortunate to work with President Kagame found out pretty soon that we have an extremely gifted (genius) leader that will give solutions to virtually all national problems, from economic to social progress, health to agriculture, security to politics – name it.
The efficiency with which he runs the country is only akin to private sector spirit of doing business, a spirit unknown to the political world.
His word has always been about delivering to Rwandans and how such delivery can be sustained. That is why term limits or no term limits should not be allowed to cloud the stability we have in all aspects of our lives as a people and a nation.
No country has done so with change of an exemplary leader, not even sustaining what such an exemplary leader had achieved in the first place.
The debate with regard to 2017, should not be reduced to mere third term. Such an approach misses the end state (stability of everything in Rwanda today). Rather our debate should be about the continuity of our stability, and development thereof, and how this can be sustained, and by whom. It should be about the values that are budding and shaping the character of our country, values that are a work-in-progress, at its earliest phase.
The debate should be about the choices of Rwandans. Choice between stability or destruction. Choice between continuity or regression. Choice between order or chaos. Choice between development or under-development.
Choice between peace and security or instability. Choice between unity or disunity. And above all choice between a viable nation state or a failed state. Truth is; we have tasted all the above states, and we know very well that if it wasn’t for the exemplary leadership of Paul Kagame, we couldn’t be talking of a new Rwanda today.
And, if we then draw from our heinous past, correlate it with our transformed present and factor in our uncertain future, the trend becomes so scary that only a diehard gambler can take a chance to change our leadership at this point in time. Such a gamble would affect lives of millions of Rwandans - and for the worst.
Supported by Empirical Research
There is lots of empirical research conducted over a long period of time (consensus built), that point out that, unless a developing country sustains stable political systems anchored on strong leadership, the country’s development is bound to be erratic, uneven and in most cases stalls, or even reverses fundamentally. This research draws from the previous episodes of sustained growth and development, from western economies as well as in newly industrialised Asian Tigers, and are all in agreement that, those countries which latched into virtuous cycles of development happened to have strong leadership that spanned over a long period of time (no less than thirty years on average).
Thus for instance, empirical research done by Edwards (1998, 2003) on Asian Tigers, found out that, sustained strong leadership accounted for much of the development of such countries as Singapore, South Korea, and Malaysia. He points out that, such sustained strong leadership reduced the degree of political instabilities, and uncertainties and instilled confidence in financial institutions which in turn enabled these countries to usher into high sustained savings and investment levels over time, leading to their miraculous growth. Such research holds that, the political climate created such levels of certainty that, development agents both local and foreign, were able to forecast and plan long-term, to the extent that, these economies developed at unprecedented levels. The reverse was true for other East Asian countries that saw their growth stagnate due to sporadic and chaotic leadership changes. This same research point to such countries as The Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, many other examples of similar countries abound in East Asian Pacific Rim as they do in sub-Saharan Africa.
Folk wisdom has it that: ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’. We ignore that adage at our peril”. This adage is held dearly by a large number of Rwandans that have reacted to these series and who in their opinion, change for the sake of change; is but, a call for doom. The question remains, what is in the interest of all Rwandans? Economic growth and better standards of living for themselves and their children, security for their lives, protection of property, social cohesion, etc. If these are in place more than any other time in our history as a nation, why should we change the architect of this political economy? The empirical evidence above and the will of the Rwandan people should inform our decision of no change as opposed to emotive and subjective evidence. The debate must be about what Rwandans wish for their country, and not what others wish for us no matter how well intended. It must be guided by what constitutes common good for all Rwandans today and for future generations as opposed to one size fits all. Only Rwandans can define their destiny and future.
In the first series I had pointed out that…That USA amended her constitution in 1951 after President Roosevelt had run for four terms (this was a war period)….
It should have read: … “USA President Roosevelt was re-elected four times, he passed away in office in 1945.
The Constitution WAS changed in 1951, but to limit term limits, not to allow him to run for office more than twice.
The original Constitution of the United States did not limit the number of times a President could be re-elected”.
The author is an Economist and Financial Expert.