It is election time in Rwanda once again. In a little over one month, Rwandans will elect their president for the next seven years.
Elections are now a regular occurrence and have become a normal feature of life, and have lost some of their wild excitement. Still, they remain competitive, even if the calibre of some of the contestants is nothing to boast about. One wishes it could be higher.
All the candidates in the upcoming contest are now known. The last to be nominated was Mr Paul Kagame. That was done on Sunday by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). Official presentation of his candidature to the National Electoral Commission will soon follow, and that will set in motion the campaign.
Other individuals, largely unremarkable and easily forgettable, have already presented their candidature. Few Rwandans know who they are and don’t give a damn.
None can put a face to their names or a name to their faces. Do they have a programme for the country? Get real. They have never heard of such a thing, and even if they had, wouldn’t know what it is.
Why do they bother to present themselves to Rwandans? Don’t ask me. It could be for any number of reasons. Maybe it is vanity. Or they are seeking to sell themselves to foreign buyers.
Or they may be slightly unhinged. Perhaps it is to entertain us. Not a bad thing, not bad at all, as a famous person might tweet. One thing is clear, though. It is their right and they are exercising it fully.
Going by this, and contrasting it with the RPF show at its congress on Saturday, and President Kagame’s record, one would be forgiven to think that his victory is a foregone conclusion and so he will sit back and wait for the official anointment on August 4.
Only the foolish can hold that view. He will do no such thing. Instead, he will campaign hard, go to every corner of the country and present his vision to Rwandans. Their lives matter and cannot be taken for granted.
Which is why Kagame and the RPF, and indeed all Rwandans, are such a formidable force and very difficult to defeat.
Politics for them is conviction, not simply a path to power. It is a mission to change people’s lives, not a lucrative leisure activity for some. Rwandans believe they are all on this mission and have been inspired and motivated by it.
The sense of mission and its continuity is reinforced by exhortation to the youth to prepare to take on the responsibility and take it further.
President Kagame captured this very well in a statement he made after being nominated. He said: the RPF is what is in our heads and in our hearts. It is a blend of conviction and logic, passion and drive. The progress of the country is held with the same kind of conviction like religion.
Anyone who thinks they can defeat the RPF must reckon with this. How do you take on people with a deeply held belief about the correctness of what has to be done and how they are doing it, and with a record to prove it? How do you stand against people with such a strong sense of mission?
They are simply invincible.
But that does not mean that some will not try. The usual suspects will be at it complaining about the strength of RPF. Note they have no arguments to counter its programmes, except insults and other venom they hurl at the President and his party. Already they are at it.
I don’t know why they bother, except perhaps to still their own anti-progress demons.
Another thing distinguishes Kagame from the other clueless contenders for the presidency. He takes his case to Rwandans, talks with them about issues they grapple with daily and with them devise solutions for them.
The pitiful lot make their case to foreigners and look to them to influence the outcome of the election.
As they look to the outside for salvation, Rwandans are focused on their mission with Paul Kagame and the RPF at the helm. They will be hard to beat for a very long time.Follow https://twitter.com/jrwagatare