President Paul Kagame has urged newly elected local leaders to shun behaviours that hinder development in their communities, requesting them to improve services to the people and fight corruption and injustice.
The Head of State made the call, yesterday, while officiating at the closure of a two-week civic education programme (Itorero) for more than 800 local leaders who were elected in the grassroots elections concluded early last month.
The training, which took place at the Rwanda Defence Forces Gabiro Combat Training Centre in Gatsibo District in the Eastern Province, brought together members of advisory councils, executive committees and executive secretaries of all districts and the City of Kigali.
It also attracted representatives of provincial and national councils for women, youth, and persons with disabilities who were also elected recently.
The Head of State told the leaders that it was time for them to make good choices to deliver services to the people back in their respective communities.
“After this training, you have to go in your respective districts and deliver. Our citizens expect a lot from you,” he said.
“There is a lot that the training helps us to achieve but it also leaves us the option to choose what we need to do. How are you ready to do what you are supposed to do? How you are ready to choose between the right thing and the wrong thing to do is up to you”.
He warned the leaders against enriching themselves out of resources meant to help vulnerable members of society and encouraged them to speak out against corruption and hold each other and their leaders accountable.
“Not being involved in bad practices isn’t enough. You have to get involved in stopping those who steal from our people,” Kagame said.
Kagame emphasized the importance of leaders who put service to citizens first.
“Everyone has rights, everyone has the right to good health; it can’t just be the privilege of leaders. Your rights as leaders don’t have to encroach on other ordinary people’s rights,” he said.
The President urged local leaders to work together to prioritise health and education and ensure that no child is denied the opportunity to education.
During the training, participants were reminded of the values of good governance, including good time management, team work and being at the forefront of promoting people’s economic development and welfare.
Josué-Michelle Ntaganira, a member of the executive Council of Nyamasheke District who is also the Vice Mayor in charge of economic affairs and development in the district, spoke on behalf of the participants at the end of the training.
He expressed the local leaders’ commitment to implementing the country’s Vision 2020, a plan to turn Rwanda into a middle income country.
“We will strive to involve the people in development planning and the execution of development programmes,” Ntaganira told the President.
Several participants who completed the training told The New Times that the training was useful to understand the leadership work they have embarked on after being elected.
“I feel empowered to advocate for my fellow citizens’ interests. We are going to change history in Nyaruguru where we hope to work together to especially fight any forms of injustice in our district,” said Sylvain Murera, a member of the advisory council of Nyaruguru District in the Southern Province.
Pascasie Kamanyana, the head of the National Women Council in the Southern Province, said she learned of the need to pay more attention to citizens.
“I think it is very important to listen to them because they are the ones who elected us to represent them,” she said.