This year there will be four presidential elections in Africa, namely: Kenya, Rwanda, Angola in the month of August, and Liberia in October. It’s quite an action packed year, pivotal in shaping governance and development in the entire continent.
My opinion may be up for debate but I believe that political instability in a country is a grievous sign of the failure of its leaders to address economic and humanitarian concerns for its people. And as preparations towards elections are in full gear, a comparative analysis of the general atmosphere in these countries may confer the priority given in leadership towards improving the lives of people.
In Rwanda, for example, the ambience is calm and collected as national institutions continue to build on national development programmes. The headlines in the media are not about which leaders are at loggerheads with each other, but about regional cooperation, community projects and developments within key economic sectors.
The political parties in Rwanda are not centred around holding political rallies countrywide and addressing each other as if they were adversaries in a battlefield. The media are not given an extra stipend to share key messages that antagonise other political leaders. There are no idle groups that meet regularly, charmed with free local brews to drown their sorrows while in full political party apparel. Nobody is throwing money at locals to influence voter decisions.
The list of political smug goes on and on. However the situation in Rwanda goes as far in portraying the old popular democratic maxim that elections are for the people and by the people.
The political will to transform economic development seems to be the defining factor in the country, that a constitutionally required general election is not enough a fascination to deceive leaders into fighting for more power and fame in the country, but a chance to seek ways in unison to foster unity and progress among the people. Political leaders are not building their manifestos around failure, but rather they drive a sense of patriotism and futuristic thinking for the sake of the people.
As an observer of the election campaigns taking place in the continent, for example in Kenya, I can’t help but notice the surge of ethnic polarisation, corruption scandals, strikes, protests, energised opposition and fear of violence reinforcing an upheaval of political tension.
However, Rwanda’s impartial atmosphere should not be confused with apprehension because every aspiring candidate and citizen is well aware that this election period marks another important democratic milestone not only in the country but the entire continent. Rwanda’s renaissance for the past 23 years has surely been successful because Rwandan leaders have continuously positioned Rwandans first, and continuously uphold social welfare of the general population.
For a country on the brink of topping all continental charts in doing business, improving healthcare, promoting SMEs and advocating for ICT use and technological advancement as a long-term means to eradicating poverty, sobriety during this election’s period also confers the measure of legitimacy of its government and the level of maturity in the move to realise sustainable development.
There is a cry for help, especially now, as we define Africa’s governance narrative once again. However, as a starter pack, for lack of a better word, a number of countries need to leverage on Rwanda’s indifference to political turmoil as a case study, by channeling governmental energy in the right direction and focusing on the transformative effect of social, economic, financial progress.
The writer works with Strategic Great Lakes-Rwanda but the views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily represent those of her employer.
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