Editorial: Citizen engagement in policymaking should be the norm

For two decades or so, the people of Rwanda have increasingly taken part in shaping public services and the country’s destiny as democratic and participatory governance continues to take root.

For two decades or so, the people of Rwanda have increasingly taken part in shaping public services and the country’s destiny as democratic and participatory governance continues to take root.

Coming from a background of autocracy and leaders that excluded their people in matters of public policy, the country today has a leadership with a reputation of putting citizens at the centre of public services and public policy to help ensure participation and ownership.

 

Over the years, the government has demystified governance increasingly putting people in charge of their destiny and the kind of services to expect from government. As a result, concepts like decentralisation, citizen engagement and public service are no longer alien to Rwandans as the people continue to not only have a say on how government serves them but also choose their leaders – from the top of the pyramid to the bottom.

 

Citizen engagement in today’s dispensation has continued to evolve, as people get accustomed to participatory governance and increasingly empowered to influence policymaking.

 

As a result, there is growing consensus that Rwandans are now ready to actively partake in the formulation of major growth blueprints, including the third Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 3) that’s currently under development.

A meeting to that effect was held in Kigali this week during which participants reckoned that the citizens were now empowered enough to influence national priorities and targets under the next generation of development strategy.

Citizens have previously participated in the national budget making processes but have barely directly informed policymaking over the medium- and long-term.

The development of EDPRS III is a perfect opportunity to collect as many views as possible from ordinary Rwandans across the various sectors and to rally them behind future national development programmes.

This culture of inclusiveness and citizen engagement should be promoted more regularly and consultations extended to the people at various stages of life, including children and the youth.

This will ultimately result in an enlightened society, and an empowered and participatory citizenry.

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