Last week’s presidential election which handed incumbent President Paul Kagame another seven-year mandate at the helm was the third ever multiparty presidential poll in Rwanda.
Forget about the naysayers, Rwanda is on the move and its people on the frontline.
Despite uncouth attitude and ill-informed criticism from our western partners and their cohorts, the people of Rwanda will not be deterred in the effort to shape a decent future for themselves and their children.
At 96 per cent voter turnout, Rwandans yet again demonstrated an unwavering spirit and determination to be the masters of their destiny.
The elections are part of a broader deliberate effort that dates back more than two decades ago to return power into the hands of the people of Rwanda not only through regular free-and-fair elections but also bringing decision-making closer to the people and ensuring that leaders deliver tangible results.
Over the years, Rwanda has demystified leadership. The people of Rwanda have increasingly been empowered to hold their leaders to account through the decentralization process and such innovations as Imihigo, while civic education efforts have had positive impact enabling the electorate to make informed choices.
So what Rwandans did when they turned up at the polling stations in large numbers last week was not an isolated act; rather it was part of a national effort that puts the ordinary person at the heart of the country’s development agenda.
It’s not by chance that Rwandans cast their vote peacefully, nor is it down to strict adherence to the law. It is largely because Rwandans understand that the elections are just one of the building blocks of a nation, albeit a critical exercise that needs to be conducted respectfully and calmly. They know that the country comes above any individual – whether candidate or their supporters – and that national unity and peace will always come over and above any other considerations.
The polls were financed by Rwandans. This has become a culture and it’s worthy of applause. Why should another country’s taxpayer sponsor your elections? Rwandans should be proud of themselves about the fact that they took full ownership of the electioneering process and this should motivate them to extend the same spirit in other aspects of national development.
Those reporting back to work for the first time since the polls should do so with enthusiasm and commitment to make their fair contribution toward the country’s development effort.
In last week’s poll, all Rwandans emerged winners. Congratulations to the people of Rwanda!