Parties should get closer to the people

The Consultative Forum of Political Parties (FFPP), a grouping of political parties that are recognized in Rwanda, on Thursday, validated its five-year strategic plan, under which the Forum intends to promote public awareness about its activities.

The Consultative Forum of Political Parties (FFPP), a grouping of political parties that are recognized in Rwanda, on Thursday, validated its five-year strategic plan, under which the Forum intends to promote public awareness about its activities.

Like in many other African countries, most of Rwanda’s political parties only become active during the election period. They remain largely invisible, if not silent, in the public arena in other times. The common view is that people form or join political parties with the sole intention of clinching positions of power.

Given the history of political parties, especially in our country, it’s true that some people used political parties as a vehicle to achieve political clout or meet their personal desires. Needless to say, radical political groups/parties were instrumental in the execution of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Yet, it was another political organization, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), which ended the Genocide, and went on to engineer the country’s rebirth and recovery.

16 years down the line, several political parties have joined hands with the RPF in continuing the task to build this nation, and their leadership has won massive public support.

Contrary to the past, most of our political parties have stayed clear of politics of confrontation. They are all players in national development programmes under the prevailing inclusive politics.

However, political parties remain largely detached from the people. Few of them can boast of pro-community programmes such as extending clean water to rural communities, building classrooms and providing new farming techniques.

There’s need for them to get much closer to the people, to understand their day-to-day challenges and aspirations, and to directly partake in problem-solving strategies at the community level.

The FFPP may be doing its part, but its members – individual political parties – should also rise to the occasion, and not wait for the next campaign period.

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