RE: Poverty eradication on agenda as Kagame tours Eastern Province (The New Times, April 29).
President Paul Kagame’s citizen outreach policy has truly demonstrated its value many times over.
Quite simply, his regular visits and interaction with ordinary citizens in rural Rwanda, who are able to convey their most important problems to him directly without these being filtered by officialdom often more concerned with how complaints might reflect on them, provides the President with a better understanding of the issues, large and small, Rwandans have to grapple with on a daily basis.
This is infinitely more informative than dry bureaucratic reports from that same officialdom interested in putting their best foot forward.
But perhaps of even greater significance is what these visits and interactions are adding to the cultural transformation of Rwandan society. Citizens are now fully aware that senior officials and local administrators are not small kings of yore who can treat citizens as they wish.
Those who have failed to deliver for them or mistreated them in other ways quickly find they have no way of censoring what they are able to communicate to the President regarding their treatment, with the inevitable result that problems that had previously been neglected or even outright cases of unfair treatment of citizens are rapidly resolved, while concerned officials are themselves put on the carpet.
As a direct consequence of this, Rwandans in the furthest corners of our country now understand or are learning that officials are at their service and not the other way round.
That they can call them to order and if they fail to do so directly themselves, they can call on higher instances of the state up to their President to ensure they receive the services they are entitled to.
This, for me, is the most valuable consequence of the President’s now regular Citizen Outreach programme.