The New Times’ reporters Daniel Sabiti and Ambrose Gahene spoke to some ordinary Rwandans about democracy and human rights. Excerpts:
Fidèle Mupagasi, 57, businessman (Muhanga)
Good leadership is the main reason why this country has developed so fast and became successful in doing business. I have not seen this happen in the past years. Most businesses have become successful because the authorities are supportive and we (entrepreneurs) have been able to voice our needs and problems to the President himself. He has always listened to us and most of the problems addressed to him have been solved immediately. If animals and the environment have had their rights respected in Rwanda, then how about us, the people?
Our businesses have grown drastically and no one asks us to give a bribe. All Rwandans have access to services on equal basis and meritocracy is the rule of the day, unlike in the past.
The country is much safer nowadays than any time before and it has become another home for many foreigners. I am afraid those behind the claims of lack of democracy and human in Rwanda, in some way share the same ideology as, or at least are misled by, elements that participated in the (1994) Genocide and their sympathisers.
Beatrice Mukantaganda, housewife (Muhanga)
Clearly, our level of democracy and human rights today cannot be compared to the pre-genocide situation. Women have benefited from this government and we (women) have been instrumental in rebuilding and developing this country.
Of course it’s unfortunate and irrational for some people outside the country to claim to know our country better than us. I think they are wrong; they know nothing. My hope is that this kind of leadership continues so that each one of our community have a happier life.
Francois Binagwaho , 50 (Kageyo Sector, Gicumbi)
Democracy and human rights is about addressing peoples’ socio-economic needs such as good governance, infrastructure development, education, agriculture, eradication of poverty, and the rule of law.
The very people responsible for committing heinous acts in the 1994 Genocide, who are obviously enemies of the current government, are the ones behind this negative propaganda about Rwanda. They just want to discredit our leaders.
Yusuf Sibomana, 26, a motorist (Muhanga)
You don’t need to use any force for anyone to elect Kagame. And this may actually apply even outside Rwanda. He is not only a good leader, but a true, living hero. Not because he’s Kagame, but due to what he has done for us as Rwandans and the love he has for this country. We love him and we don’t need any further proof that he will ably lead us in the next seven years.
If democracy doesn’t exist in Rwanda, then it exists nowhere. As for human rights, who should be better placed to understand that my fundamental rights are repected, other than myself?
I have the freedom to work and I choose my leaders with the conviction that they will be able to support my livelihood by putting in place good laws, services and respecting my rights.
VenelandaTumuherwe, 41 (Kaniga Sector, Gicumbi)
In my understanding, democracy and human rights is about guaranteeing gender equality, improving the livelihoods of the people, protecting children against hard labour, and promoting education and justice. There are many Rwandan fugitives out there, and I believe, they are responsible for these lies about our country.
Faustin Ngirabakunzi, 57 (Shangasha Sector, Gicumbi)
I am enjoying democracy because I voted for the person of my choice without anyone influencing my decision, and I have my rights respected because I am not afraid that anyone is going to kill me, and I live in harmony with my neighbours.
Our economy has also developed very fast; and that’s what most of the people want.
Drocella Nyirambarushimana, 43 (Byumba Sector, Gicumbi)
My freedom is about having security and freely going about activities that generate income for my family. I think our country’s image in not actually bad. We always play host to foreign dignitaries including Heads of State, and our President has received so many trophies from the outside world because he has reconciled Rwandans.