Basic principles of democracy enshrined in the constitution of Rwanda are often unknown to members of the public and/or ignored by grassroots leaders simply because less effort has been put in sensitising the masses on the basis of their creation, senators have said.
Jean Nepomuscene Sindikubwabo, the chairperson of the Senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance, told The New Times that during a recent countrywide consultation, the committee found out that some of the fundamental principles are either ignored or unconsciously upheld by local leaders.
This, he said, has rendered the basic principles little-known to the masses consequently undermining the basis upon which they were designed.
Sindikubwabo spoke on the sideline of a consultative meeting which brought together senators, MPs, some cabinet members, governors, as well as heads of some public institutions whose mandate includes follow-up on the implementations of the principles.
In 2003, close to 10 years after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, a new Constitution was adopted—which was later amended in 2015—and it constituted the fundamental principles that seek to, among others, fight the ideology of genocide and dictatorship, strengthen and promote national unity and reconciliation, build a state governed by the rule of law and based on respect for fundamental human rights, develop human resources, fight ignorance, promote technological advancement and the social welfare of Rwandans.
Rwanda committed to conform to some six fundamental principles, including fighting ideology of genocide and all its manifestations; eradication of ethnic, regional and other divisions and promotion of national unity.
Sindikubwabo said the meeting was called to engage all stakeholders on how best to promote fundamental principles among Rwandans.
“Without them (members of the publics) understanding these principles the country won’t achieve sustainable development because they are inseparable,” he said.
Sindikubwabo also cited cases of local leaders who give out wrong statistics in their reports. He said this undermines central government’s efforts in promoting inclusive development.
“Accountability is still a challenge to some of our local leaders yet this is a very important aspect of good governance. Some of these people report incorrect numbers of their undertakings such that they don’t get caught up in performance contracts and we have established such facts. These issues can be addressed by sensitising masses on why these principles were put in place—to know their rights—as well as holding culprits to account for their mistakes,” Sindikubwabo added.
Some of the programmes which were pointed out whose statistics are often inflated by local leaders include Vision Umurenge Programme (VUP), Ubudehe social classification and One Cow per family programme.
The senator’s comments were echoed by MP Theoneste Safari Begumisa, who noted that “participatory governance is still low while some local leaders are still corrupt which undermines the principle of inclusive governance and development.”
For instance, Anastase Shyaka, the chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board, said Gicumbi and Gatsibo are the only areas out of 30 districts whose residents were “fully satisfied” with Ubudehe social stratification in the recent Rwanda Governance Scorecard (RGS).
These districts had at least 85 percent of their citizens give affirmation to the criteria of the community-led Ubudehe categorisation.
Shyaka urged stakeholders to heed right measures which will rightfully inform policy and bring about sustainable development.
“If you want to improve you need to make right measurements. If you can’t measure you can’t improve,” he said.
The Governor of Northern Province, Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, acknowledged that accountability of local public leaders will go a long way in bringing about the respect of Fundamental principles hence inclusive and sustainable growth.
“We need to hold to account some of these leaders who do not respect these principles. The evaluations should be done in such a way that everyone knows what they have to do,” he said.
“These are qualitative issues that are hard to be measured and there should be indicators that will remind implementers of what they have to do.”