Presidential campaigns kick off today in Rwanda. All the approved candidates will traverse within a period of less than three weeks.
Rwandans and friends of Rwanda will gather to listen to them.
According to their respective programmes, Paul Kagame will start from the Southern Province’s Ruhango and Nyanza, Frank Habineza in Rusizi and Philippe Mpayimana shall be in Bugesera District.
The current governance systems in the country encourage the citizens to audit their leaders. Much as they are used to audit local leaders, citizens have the right to audit all leaders, both those elected and appointed.
Citizens have been complaining about some people who only show up during the election period and never go back to meet the people who elected them. This period reminds everyone about that responsibility: accountability.
In my recent opinion in this newspaper, I talked about the responsibility and accountability by the electoral commission on behalf of the electorate.
If citizens are not responsible and accountable to themselves, there is no way accountability will ever be a reality in the country.
This hypothesis is founded on the premise that; candidates or potential leaders are products of society, which is a composition of the general citizenry. If the country has responsible and accountable citizens, then it will produce responsible and accountable leaders.
Unless a country has well educated citizens, with both political maturity and ideological clarity, elections can’t be a foundation for democracy and good governance.
Despite good lessons from all over the world, including “democratic and developed countries”, elections are never the end in themselves; they are both the process and the outcome.
Rwandans are getting used to joyful, colourful, transparent, peaceful and fair elections, and the outcome has always been an inclusive governance system, where both victors and losers become the winners.
For us to sustain this momentum, everyone should take advantage of this crucial, moment in the nation’s political life.
Electoral campaign is the right time for civic participation, voice and accountability and, above all, civic education. All Rwandans should see it as a critical time in their life, because their choices shall have direct impact –positive or otherwise on them.
It is very important for citizens – voters or non-voters to attend the rallies, listen to the candidates’ manifestos and understand them carefully for them to vote wisely.
Even those without the right to vote have right to good leadership, and right to hold their leaders accountable.
Electoral campaign is an opportunity for accountability and responsibility, and, above all, a critical period for civic education. All candidates should get closer to the citizens to not only seek their votes, but also to educate them about their manifesto.
The next president will deliver only when the citizens understand well his (all candidates are male) manifesto and can work with him to implement it. Success is the result of education and team work.
The author is a Rwandan political analyst and member of the Pan African Movement Rwanda Chapter