OPPOSITION candidate Frank Habineza has promised democratic changes and other reforms once elected into office in the August 4 poll.
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda flag bearer was addressing campaign rallies in Kirehe and Ngoma districts yesterday. Habineza arrived in Kirehe with some of his supporters at around 11am and later campaigned in Ngoma in the afternoon.
The turnout at his Ngoma rally was low after the venue was changed at the last minute.
“We came here to talk to all of you our supporters who crave democracy; it is difficult to achieve but it’s achievable. We will promote democracy that will allow you enjoy all your rights to be who you want to be, to pray from wherever and live freely wherever and do whatever you wish to do,” he told Kirehe residents.
He said, if elected, he will promote youth empowerment by creating opportunity for them to study and acquire skills that will help them create better jobs.
“You know the youth study but they don’t get jobs, I am told that many youth in this area have turned to drugs due to high unemployment. We will focus not only on fighting drug abuse and trafficking but also looking for employment for the youth,” he said.
Habineza said he would help the youth do business in cooperatives and companies and also offer them tax waivers.
On agriculture, Habineza said the Eastern Province and the two districts in particular, that depend on agriculture, mainly banana plantations, would be helped to adopt proper use of fertilisers.
“We will promote irrigation through rain water harvesting and collecting water from hills to ensure food security and food safety in this area,” he said.
He also promised to ensure quality education, saying this had been compromised through shifting of languages of instruction from French to English.
He promised to introduce a minimum wage to avoid exploitation of workers.
“We will also build roads here to ease transport and cooperation among neighbouring districts and cross-border trade with Burundi and Tanzania,” he said.
“We will sustain what has been achieved, change bad policies and do more to make Rwanda better.”
Habineza told supporters that his party has previously experienced hardships until it was allowed to operate freely, adding it has matured enough to have a president.
Meanwhile, in Ngoma, the Green Party candidate promised to work on improving lives by giving community health insurance subscribers access to more treatment options.
He pledged to improve lives of health practitioners, construct health centres closer to people, and provide potable water, among others.
Habineza reiterated his wish to scrap land tax and reduce other taxes.
“We want continuity. We have achieved tremendous progress over the past two decades but there is a long way to go. We need more roads, health facilities as well as social improvement, we need a leader who will take the country to another level in terms of development and women empowerment,” said Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, a mother of two in Gahara Sector, Kirehe District.
“Voting is personal and I have at heart my candidate. All candidates promise good things in their manifesto but the challenge is that few can implement them,” said another resident in Ngoma Sector, who preferred anonymity.
With 77,879 households and a population of 340,983, Kirehe is one of the seven districts that make up the Eastern Province. The main economic activity here is farming; growing maize, beans, rice and bananas, pineapple, among others.
Ngoma District has a population of over 338,000, the majority of them farmers growing mainly banana, maize, cassava, rice, beans, bananas and Soya beans.