Members of Parliament in the Lower House have tasked the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) to use all resources at its disposal to root out genocide ideology in Rwanda.
The MPs, who received the commission’s executive secretary, Fidèle Ndayisaba, on Friday, were reacting to NURC’s 2015 Unity and Reconciliation Barometer report.
The Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer regularly tracks the status of reconciliation process in Rwanda with the aim of establishing the status of reconciliation in general and per district, in particular, through citizens’ views and experiences.
MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma expressed his shock at the percentage of Rwandans that still harbour genocide ideology, which the report puts at 25.8 per cent, and said it was time to treat each case individually.
“I am shocked to hear that 25.8 per cent Rwandans harbour genocide ideology, I would like us to profile each person who still thinks along these lines. How much have they been educated about the history of Rwanda, what is their access to services, education level etc. We already know where they come from; it would be of great importance if we got to know other variables so that we can find out a way of helping them make a step out of that genocide ideology darkness,” he said.
MP Edouard Bamporiki pointed out that though most Rwandans had had an opportunity to engage in civic education, others were slipping through the gaps that need to be bridged.
“Most of us have embraced unity and reconciliation after getting civic education in school, Church, Umuganda community work, etc but we also have people who continue to return from outside the country, and then you hear that former combatants were taken to Mutobo for rehabilitation classes and the civilians sent home. How can these civilians be educated like everyone else? Something needs to be done to make sure that everyone is on the same wavelength,” he said.
MP Devote Uwamariya reminded the MPs that, in the past few years, there was a programme that saw each MP or Senator work with people at the Sector level to stamp out any genocide ideology leanings.
“There was a programme whereby MPs and Senators each had a sector that they were responsible for in terms of unity and reconciliation. I would like to request that that programme is revived if we are to successfully uproot this genocide ideology,” she said.
Ndayisaba explained that though some of the statistics raise concerns, there are many others who have realised that there is no value in harbouring the ideology.
“Someone may be proud to be Rwandan and still view themselves through ethnic lenses but while they recognise that it is of no value to them, they are also not finding it that easy to let go. It is a process and it takes time to change the hearts, patience, technique and expertise,” he said.
He said that civil society and religions were getting involved in changing mindsets and, so far, they had registered commendable progress.
The report also indicates that 92 per cent of the respondents believe they have a say in how they are governed, 83 per cent think they have a right to hold their leaders accountable, while 92.1 per cent say they have the power to decide own their future.
The survey, first conducted in 2010, involved a sample of 12,000 respondents in 450 villages across the country’s 30 districts.