Dr. Richard Sezibera’s appointment as the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General coincided with Rwanda’s 17th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi. One way of looking at Dr.Sezibera’s appointment, while linking it with the genocide commemoration, is to closely look at what his appointment will bring to the entire EAC.
Especially within the life of the EAC as it seeks to consolidate its gains in order to propel the community towards the planned political federation.
One thing is certain as Dr. Sezibera comes into office. That certain countries within the EAC seem to be experiencing political challenges and these include Kenya and Uganda.
Since the Ugandan elections were conducted in 2010, violence has erupted, while in Kenya,with fresh elections approaching in 2012, negative ethnicity seems to be destroying the gains that Kenyans had made as they embarked on post election reconciliation that cost them heavily in 2008.
Kenya risks getting back to the brink unless the coalition government urgently tackles issues of impunity, youth unemployment and threats posed by hate speech amongst some of its leaders.
The same level of threats could be said of Uganda where rising food and fuel prices is being used to stoke chaos.
That being the case, one can say with some level of certainty that there is a fundamental and almost radical difference between how politicians behave in Kenya and Uganda, on one hand, and how their Rwandan counterparts go about their business on the other.
Since Rwanda began its real political transition to break away with its dark past in 1994, Rwandan leaders have so many lessons to offer East Africans as the political federation beckons.
The country learnt the hard way due to the recklessness of some of the pre-Arusha Accord politicians. It is widely acknowledged that such acts catapulted Rwanda into the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
What happened to Rwanda 17 years ago is a lesson tough enough for any politician to attempt anything similar. Furthermore, it seems that Rwandan politicians have mastered the delicate art of building trust, consensus and goodwill.
These are key attributes that are requisite in propelling the EAC to the last leg of a political federation. In Rwanda, the winner-takes-all-mentality is actually abhorred. It was part of the bitter lessons the current crop of Rwandan leaders learnt in the unfortunate events that led to the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
If anything, such lessons are entrenched in the Rwandan constitution. No political party, however powerful can take hold of government without reaching out to other parties. Even the composition of the cabinet in Rwanda takes note of this reality.
The RPF may consider itself the most powerful political party since it stopped the genocide and charted out the a new path for the country, and has twice been elected with an overwhelming majority. However, the rules are such that the RPF must strictly embrace the dictates of co-opting other parties into government.
Meaning that within the government, there is moderation in terms of what politicians do or even say. These are some of the major attributes that Dr. Richard Sezibera takes to the EAC.
Then there is the issue of reconciliation in Rwanda and how such lessons can be adopted by other East African states. Commentators on Kenya’s political landscape say that the real causes of the 2008 violence need to be redressed urgently.
These commentators say that while there has been some progress in areas such as enacting a new constitution or reforms in the police services, little has been done to promote reconciliation and battling impunity. It is 2011 but Kenyans are still crying for change.
Dr.Sezibera has been one of the core cadres of the RPF as it sought to chart out Rwanda’s new path for the last 17 years.
The fundamental changes in Rwanda are just too numerous to list in this article.
The most important thing is that, it is reassuring that such important lessons can be replicated into the wider EAC through Dr.Sezibera as the head of the community.
The author is an editor with The New Times