Freedom of ownership is indispensable - Kagame

Local and central government leaders should own development action plans laid out in their performance contracts and strive to work as a team to succeed in building their country towards economic progress, President Paul Kagame has said.
President Kagame in a group photo with local leaders whose districts shone in the Imihigo for 2015/16 and other government officials yesterday. During the meeting at Kigali Confere....
President Kagame in a group photo with local leaders whose districts shone in the Imihigo for 2015/16 and other government officials yesterday. During the meeting at Kigali Confere....

Local and central government leaders should own development action plans laid out in their performance contracts and strive to work as a team to succeed in building their country towards economic progress, President Paul Kagame has said.

The Head of State made the call yesterday while presiding over the signing of performance contracts, known locally as Imihigo, for the fiscal year 2016/2017 at an event held at Kigali Convention Centre.

 

The contracts were signed by ministers, provincial governors, and district mayors, pledging to work diligently in line with their action plans to fast-track the country’s development.

 

At the event, a report on districts and ministries’ performance during the last financial year 2015/2016 was also presented in which the top three districts received awards.

 

The top three ranking districts are Gasabo, Gicumbi, and Huye.

President Kagame said that the performance contracts are more about getting the country’s leaders and citizens to own their development process and improving their lives rather than shaming the worst performers.

“Imihigo is not about praising individuals or punishing others. It is about changing the lives of our citizens,” Kagame said.

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Local government officials follow proceedings during the meeting. / Timothy Kisambira.

Among other targets for the current fiscal year at the central government level, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi said that the government will work to increase exports for tea, coffee, and flowers, support garments and leather factories, vaccinate over 800,000 cows, and help food factories in the country increase their production.

The government will also ensure that off-grid power connection moves from the current 1 per cent of connected households to about 11 per cent by June next year while 40,000 families will be settled in model community settlements to be built, and slightly over 203,000 off-farm jobs created.

At the local government level in districts and provinces, the Minister for Local Government, Francis Kaboneka, told the President that efforts will be made to fight climate change, promote good governance and accountability, nurture unity and reconciliation, and improve the economic sector by expanding agriculture and collecting local taxes.

Describing ownership of development programmes by citizens as “indispensable”, President Kagame urged leaders to go ahead and diligently implement plans they have laid out without delay.

“We have seen what it takes to achieve progress. We have to be prepared to do what it takes, there is no shortcut. You cannot sit back, pray and wish for success. You cannot reap what you have not worked for,” he said.

He added: “This Rwanda is ours, it is our house. It is not a house someone has lent to us. It is ours to work on and transform.”

Rejecting claims by those who describe Rwanda as a country fast developing at the expense of democratic freedoms, the Head of State said that there is no better freedom for Rwandans than having economic freedom that is people-driven.

“Economic and social progress, how and why should they be conflicting with our desire for good governance? The first freedom is freedom from wishing for what you cannot afford, from not being able to feed or educate your children,” Kagame said.

He also encouraged leaders to work together in order to achieve their targets and bring about shared development in their communities.

“Leadership is not an individual task, it is about how a leader works with others to achieve a common goal,” he said, adding that “If we do not work together, we will not achieve our goals”.

About 800 people, including officials from local and central governments, members of the private sector, and representatives of the diplomatic corps were present for the signing of the performance contracts.

As one of the key home-grown solutions, Imihigo has been credited with improving accountability and boosting the pace of citizen-centred development activities and programmes.

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