Rwandans have spoken, loud and clear. And they have been unequivocal. Yesterday they chose their president with a landslide vote. The party is now on and will continue for quite a while. It is deserved, too.
Paul Kagame has been reelected president of Rwanda as predicted even by those who do not like him. His re-election, while never in doubt, was not taken for granted.
That is why he campaigned tirelessly throughout the country, It is the reason the RPF invested heavily in the campaign.
President Kagame’s victory is a resounding rebuke to the doubters and doomsayers and in normal circumstances should silence them. But it will not. They may be less strident for a while, but will soon be back at it. That is their nature. They cannot cope with good news coming out of Africa. But to that another time.
First, to the matter of the election and its immediate aftermath. As you read this, Rwandans are still partying or resting from the celebrations of last night and early this morning. The excitement and satisfaction that they have made the right choice will be with them for a long time. No one can begrudge them that.
Soon, however, they must return to the normal business of daily living. They have to unwind from the heady feelings and fast pace of the last three weeks. During that time many Rwandans were on the campaign trail either as active campaigners, supporters of one or other candidate, or mere seekers of fun.
The campaigners will have to adjust to a life without daily calculations, strategising, fine-tuning messages and concern about their candidate’s position on various issues.
The fun-seekers will have to learn to live away from the three-week picnic they had got used to.
Everyone will have to come down from the euphoria of victory. For a while there will be a feeling of emptiness as people make the adjustment to the rather boring, humdrum routine of daily life. But overall everyone will be saying, all’s well that ends well.
Some people however will be sorry to see the three-wee3k carnival-like campaign come to an end. Still, they will count their blessings, and on balance, will actually be very happy and will be laughing all the way to their banks. The campaign period has been a big business boon for very many people.
Take for instance, the companies and individuals who have been selling party campaign materials – t-shirts, scarves and caps, necklaces, umbrellas and other memorabilia. They have made huge profits. Now they have to figure out what to do with the merchandise still in stock.
Transport and related businesses have perhaps been the biggest beneficiaries of the campaign period. Car hire, bus companies and even lorry owners have done roaring business. Petrol filling stations have also been in on the act. Now, it is the turn of the garages and spare parts merchants to cash in on the bonanza.
Mineral water manufacturers have probably sold more water in the three weeks than they would in a quarter.
The impact of electioneering the economy is certainly enormous. If the taxman (or woman) goes after the profits, which I am sure she will, the impact could even be greater.
Now that the election has been decided, the business of governing must continue. That is the reason we have elections.
There is the business of forming a government, although this will likely be after the inauguration. Questions of who will be in the next government are already being asked. Analyses, expectations and speculations of who suits which portfolio and why have also begun.
I think I have seen some people positioning themselves in order to catch President Kagame’s eye for inclusion into the next government. May be this is part of the speculation.
Whoever makes the team must be one who will help the president meet his campaign pledges. And they are many.
He has promised a seven-fold growth in all sectors. Some officials I have spoken to believe this is within reach. One of them said they would certainly surpass the seven-fold threshold. The people think so, too. Given the testimonies of progress one has seen on the campaign trail, it is possible they can be achieved. These are the sort of confident, “do it” people the president will be looking at.
The president has promised a minimum twelve-year education for all Rwandan children. It is a mammoth promise, but going by the example of how the nine-year basic education programme was implemented, this one should not be difficult. Whoever manages it will have to start early in order to avoid the rush of the 9YBE programme.
The most extensive and expensive undertaking will be infrastructural development. Paved roads to connect various districts and get produce to markets will be built.
Electricity and water will have to be extended to more people. More hospitals, health centres and schools will have to be built. The people who will be charged with these projects will have to be the go-getter, doer type.
And then there will be the drive to raise the per capita income to US $1000.
When all the partying ends and the euphoria dies down, these are the tasks that we will be faced with. They are sobering propositions and only people with all their wits about them. Luckily we have no shortage of those.