President Paul Kagame yesterday urged leaders to adopt the culture of serving with humility and hard work.
He was speaking at the closure of the 15th Leadership Retreat, an annual event designed to evaluate progress and effect change.
The President cautioned officials against being carried away by self-importance, saying that the exaggerated sense of one’s own importance was detrimental and costly to the country and the people they serve.
Kagame pointed out that valuable time spent in according protocols to senior government officials, was a burden to the people.
“Why would a Minister landing at an airport require the full attention of airport officials?” the President asked.
He reminded the leaders that their responsibility is to serve the Rwandan people and they should spend more time understanding their challenges and addressing them.
The President reminded them that visiting local communities is a duty and not a favour, as some officials have come to believe.
Rwanda would achieve its developmental targets if leaders changed their ways of working, and adopted a culture of humility and hard work, he added.
“The key to transformation is harnessing a strong culture. Among the strengths of those who have attained development is humility and hard work,” Kagame said, explaining that without the right culture, development would be difficult to achieve.
The President further warned against the tendency of covering up mistakes and frustrating people who are doing things right.
There are people, he said, who frustrate officials who join the government with the determination to do what is right or what they are professionally trained to do.
“There should be consequences for people who derail progress,” Kagame said, adding that as leaders their responsibility should be to create working environments where people who are doing right, are facilitated and encouraged to do even better.
The President urged those determined to do what is right for Rwanda to keep doing so without fear and not be discouraged by detractors.
“To new, young public servants, resist attempts to discourage you or slow you down. Fight back. Do what you know is right for your country, what you were trained to do”.
He added that the one common factor of a successful country or company, that is often missed, is a strong culture of cohesion.
“We always need coordinated efforts. I have never believed that being divided, be it country or company, can achieve goals,” Kagame told the leaders.
He urged leaders to be confident in themselves and always put the country’s interest and the people they serve first.
This year’s annual national leadership retreat was also attended by First Lady Jeannette Kagame and brought together about 300 senior leaders from Central Government, Local Government, parastatals and the private sector to discuss a number of critical issues affecting the country.
The retreat took place at the Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre in Gabiro in the Eastern Province’s Gatsibo District.
The discussions mainly focused on where Rwanda is today in relation to the country’s development targets, prerequisites for transformational growth, transformation through enhanced urbanisation and competitiveness.
Other topics that were discussed included education for a knowledge-based economy, improving the quality of health services, and Rwanda’s standing vis-à-vis Africa and beyond.
The 15th National Leadership Retreat was conducted at a time when the government recently adopted a National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), which is a seven-year government programme and remains an implementation instrument for the remainder of Vision 2020 and the first four years of Vision 2050.
Under the seven-year programme, from 2017 to 2024, the Government plans to connect all Rwandans to water and electricity, create 1.5 million off-farm jobs, and double tourism revenues from the current $404 million a year to $800 million.
Under the country’s Vision 2050, Rwanda is projected to be a high-income economy when every Rwandan will be earning at least $12,000 a year with a high standard of living.