As the nation prepares to celebrate Liberation Day on July 4, senior government officials, yesterday, reflected on the remarkable progress registered over the last 17 years.
A Sunday afternoon radio and television live talk show that featured ministers Pierre Damien Habumuremyi (education), James Kabarebe (defence), James Musoni (local government), Aloysia Inyumba (Gender and Family Promotion) and the private sector federation president, Robert Bayigamba, emphasized the importance of the Day.
Minister Kabarebe, noted that July 4 is a date and time when Rwandans remember where they come from, where they are, and focus on where they are going.
“It is also a time to focus on the achievements and challenges, in addition to drawing inspiration and strength to move on,” he said.
Unity, good governance and democracy, fighting corruption, improving Rwandans’ welfare and fighting poverty, promoting gender equality, private sector growth and development, were among the achievements highlighted.
Minister Inyumba said: “When the RPF started the liberation war, it had a long term strategy of building the unity of Rwandans. All people, including girls and women identified with the RPF because they all participated in the liberation struggle.”
She noted that today, no one doubts that Rwandan women have a say in the country’s prosperity.
“For the first time in the history of this country, a woman has a voice – women now lead and represent the country in world peacekeeping missions.”
Musoni emphasized various achievements including the country’s zero tolerance to corruption, enhancing the rule of law, and establishment of watchdog institutions as major tools for the country’s transformation.
“Before the war, it was the World Food Programme that catered for most of the country’s food needs. But now, Rwandans feed themselves and are getting surplus for the market,” he said.
Musoni added that before 1990, the country’s GDP per capita growth was at -1 percent per year, today, it averages five percent per year.
According to Musoni and Kabarebe, there were eight reasons that led to the liberation war including. bringing about the unity of Rwandans, allowing Rwandans to return home, establishment of democracy and good governance, getting rid of corruption, and improving international relations and the country’s image.
Kabarebe said: “Rwandans found it necessary to liberate their country. The RPF realised that the dictatorship had to be removed through a military struggle. War started because it was the only option left.”
Habumuremyi stressed that the nation’s education was also a strong reason for waging the liberation war.
“Everyone knows that before the struggle, there was a policy of divisionism and dictatorship. Divisionism was in two parts – by ethnicity and region. And education opportunities hinged on these.”
He explained that before the Genocide, the Hutu were allocated 80 percent of educational opportunities, the Tutsi were allocated 10 percent, while the Twa featured nowhere in the education system, The Tutsi’s share was not really adhered to.
“It is clear that a discriminatory policy is reason enough for a liberation war to start,” Habumuremyi observed.