A campaign like no other

This presidential campaign, now in its third week, has been a campaign like no other. Or rather, like all the other campaigns I have seen. Among other things, the RPF Inkotanyi are past masters at meticulous organisation. When Chairman Paul Kagame arrives, the events run like clockwork, and for just about an hour - a cross between a rock concert, and serious seminar on Rwandan political economy.

This presidential campaign, now in its third week, has been a campaign like no other. Or rather, like all the other campaigns I have seen.

Among other things, the RPF Inkotanyi are past masters at meticulous organisation. When Chairman Paul Kagame arrives, the events run like clockwork, and for just about an hour - a cross between a rock concert, and serious seminar on Rwandan political economy.

 

And the crowds - I mean the crowds! Hundreds of thousands of the young and old. Capable of spontaneous sustained outbursts of joy, dance and tears, as well as periods of shared contemplative silence, enthralled by the candidate they have walked hours to see.

 

Rwanda must be the only country in which one can be among hundreds of thousands of people, and yet be able to hear the proverbial pin drop!

 

And, there is the amazing attention to the comforts of the people. From ambulances on standby, special tents for the elderly, water tanks strategically positioned, and the police making sure there is no stampede even when emotions boil over, as has happened time and time again.

This is a campaign planned with military-like precision, designed to win votes district by district, house to house. Nothing is taken for granted, nothing is left to chance.

The RPF does not venture into uncharted waters unprepared. It is not an adventurist Organisation. It imagines a future, and then works hard to create it. It does not fight battles it has not planned to win. This is as true on the military battlefield as it is on the Politico- Economic Front.

Yesterday, the question was not if, but when the genocidal regime would be defeated. Today, during this campaign season, it is not whether the RPF will win, but at what pace it will carry out the transformational programme detailed in its manifesto.

The immediate future is known. It has been created. No need for opinion polls, or cliff hanger suspense. Come the 4th of August 2017, the RPF will carry the elections with an overwhelming majority. Not because of pervasive fear as some would have the world believe, but because of the last 23 years of consistent delivery.

It is not every day that we see the literal birth or rebirth of a nation, one that forces us to rethink the basics of government and governance. What we are seeing in Rwanda today has been seen before.

From a reluctant President propelled to the helm of his nation, repeatedly, refusing to be part of partisan politics, receiving the unanimous support of his electoral base, and going on to define the nature of the State for generations.

I have in mind George Washington, Charles de Gaulle, David Ben Gurion and - Paul Kagame. Those who would criticise Rwanda today would do well to study these men and the epochs in which they lived. What is good for the goose is certainly good for the gander!

There is no empty rhetoric at RPF rallies - and those who would practice pure propaganda find no takers. Rwanda has taken us back to the basics of what Political space should look like.

Not the realm of unscrupulous individuals practising voodoo politics, not space for politicians meticulously gerrymandering constituencies on an ethnic or other sectarian basis for votes, not space for the uncritical adoption of others definition of what democracy should look like but space for the competition of who can deliver delevelopment for the people, faster, consistently.

It has taken us back to the basics of building an impersonal, developmentally oriented State focused on delivering public goods critical for the personal wellbeing of millions of its citizens.

It has given us a glimpse of what it means to turn the people from mere clients in the service of corporate or elitist interests into fully empowered citizens. For this, if for not for any other reason, the world and Africa owe the RPF Inkotanyi a debt of gratitude.

Ambassador Dr. Richard Sezibera is a Senator, former Cabinet Minister and Secretary-General of the East African Community.

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