On Monday, September 6, President Paul Kagame was handed instruments of power by the country’s chief justice, Aloysia Cyanzayire, marking the beginning of a new chapter in the country’s long journey of socio-economic and political transformation.
As the President took the oath of office for his second term at about 10:40a.m, many Rwandans must have prayed silently in their hearts that the same wisdom, vision and God’s grace that resurrected our country from hell 16 years ago, to a place we’re now proud to call home, shall guide us to more success in the years ahead.
You could see it in the eyes of the thousands of Rwandans who had the privilege to witness the historic ceremony at Amahoro National Stadium, when renowned American evangelist, Rick Warren, invited all believers to stretch out their hands towards President-elect Kagame and to pray along with him for their leader, moments ahead of the inauguration.
The atmosphere inside and around the stadium, where thousands had gathered to follow the event on big screens installed outside the stadium, was hugely uplifting. The spirits were so high. Everyone looked ready to take on a new challenge under the new mandate of the man they overwhelmingly endorsed four weeks ago.
The story about Rwanda’s rebirth and determination to move forward was embodied in a group of beaming children, whose breathtaking smiles and lively play, served as a reminder of just how children have been at the centre of Kagame’s first-term administration, as he sought to nurture a generation of responsible and patriotic citizens.
A good leader does not only care for today. He will strive to address the challenges at hand, while laying strategies that will prevent a reoccurrence of the same challenges in future.
At Amahoro Stadium, children were expressing their gratitude to the President and telling him that they expected the same treatment (their education, healthcare, social welfare and promotion of their rights in general) from him and his government over the next seven years.
High-powered government delegations from around the world, remarkably, including 14 heads of state, came and celebrated with us. We relished not only the President’s inauguration, but also the incredible accomplishments registered over the past seven years, and by extension, 16 years.
No better way to cap a chapter in our country’s history that included both reconstruction and the first national development phase. But the inauguration is now over.
On Monday, Kagame again pledged to deliver on his campaign promises and to multiply all the achievements his administration has brought about in as many sectors over the past seven years. In the next few days, the President is expected to assemble a team of leaders he deems competent enough to take the nation to the next level.
I have no doubt he will pick the most suitable faces. His past experience as President certainly puts him in a much better position to tell who the right person is for this and that task than when he first became president in 2000, and later 2003.
Similarly, those likely to make the next cabinet and to occupy other leadership positions must, by now, understand Kagame the leader, better than in his early years as President. For instance, everyone knows he is a no-nonsense person when it comes to fighting corruption; that he will not hesitate to crack the whip, no matter who you are and what you do, when it comes to delivering results.
Many now know that a ministerial position in Kagame’s government is not an opportunity to steal from the pubic and to enrich oneself. Rather, it’s job that comes with the highest demands of accountability, integrity and results. The new leaders will be required to delivery every small detail of what the people expect from them. In addition, they must understand that Rwandans are now more capable than ever to tell who is delivering, and who’s deceiving them.
Yet, working under a President who values hard-work, honesty and accountability, as opposed to patronage and other ills, is a huge privilege. As for Rwandans, in general, we must all pull our efforts together, by directly getting involved in programmes that will deliver that future we all want.
Individually and collectively, we must all own the entire development process of our country, and be ready to hold our leaders to account. That’s achievable if only each one of us does the right thing.
James Munyaneza is an Editor, The New Times