President Paul Kagame yesterday put his top leaders to task over delayed or failed projects that have slowed the country’s development goals.
The President was speaking at the twelfth National Leadership Retreat at the Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Eastern Province.
About 300 senior government officials, including ministers, governors and mayors are taking part in the retreat that is locally known as Umwiherero.
Video: President Kagame opening remarks at the 12th National Leadership Retreat- Gabiro, 1 March 2015
The President told the leaders that it was high time they recognised that there was something wrong since it’s the same old challenges that are being discussed at each retreat.
“We cannot keep repeating ourselves and doing nothing about it. This time around, we have to be here for serious business, for change that must take place. We need something different that is going to work for us and deliver to our people,” Kagame said opening the retreat.
“Results not stories will get Rwanda where it wants to be. I am not asking anybody to deliver on impossible things. There are things we don’t have means for but how can we fail to deliver on what we have means for?” Kagame said.
The President reminded the leaders that it is their full responsibility to deliver on the set targets and questioned the character of those who believe that someone else will do the work for them.
“Why are you not interested in delivering what you must deliver for your people and yourself as well?” he asked. “This Rwanda you see is too small to be of interest for anybody apart from you. If you are not interested you are dead.”
One example of a stalled project was the Gishoma peat energy plant that was expected to deliver 15 MW of electricity. The project was marred from the design stage where the provision for water was not included and on a technical level, the refining of the peat was not catered for.
The President tasked the leaders to account for the time and money lost as a result of failed work.
“We know what goes wrong every single day but we expect somebody else to do it. Who else is going to do it if not you?” Kagame asked, reminding the leaders that they are responsible for delivering to the people of Rwanda.
“You can’t be a mayor or governor or a minister when you are hurting people. If you don’t see what can hurt the people you lead, then you don’t deserve to be a leader,” Kagame said in reference to the poor management of the community-based health insurance scheme, Mutuelle de Santé.
Five mayors have stepped down following corruption allegations and mismanagement of the health insurance scheme.
“Why should Rwandans be held hostage by individual profit and selfishness? Enough is enough,” Kagame said.
No room for complacency
The Head of State warned leaders not to become complacent based on achievements such as the good business environment or the Millennium Development Goals.
“This nation of Rwanda should not be comparing itself with the worst. We should be comparing ourselves with the best. If you want to compare, compare with those who have achieved what we are struggling to achieve,” the President said.
He cautioned the leaders against being full of themselves after it emerged that some of them had become bigger that the institutions they serve.
“Learn from those who criticise you. Listen more to those who criticise you and less to the one who praises you,” the President said.
While the government has implemented 70 per cent of the resolutions from last year’s leadership retreat, President Kagame warned leaders that “not delivering on the remaining 30 per cent may cause the problems of sustainability for 70 per cent that has been achieved.”
The President told the leaders to take the retreat as a place to seriously assess their performance and reflect on how to produce results for the Rwandan people. He raised concerns that there are those who leave the retreat to return to conducting business as usual.
“Umwiherero can’t be an end in its self. This has to be about results. We have to be here for serious business, for change that must take place.”
Concluding his remarks, the Head of State warned leaders against any forms of corruption.
“Stealing resources is a crime and justice must be done. There is no hesitation about it,” Kagame said.