Two days ago, precisely on Tuesday 9th August was a year after the historic poll in which President Paul Kagame was re-elected with a resounding victory.
For someone who was on the campaign trail, the fun of traversing this country feels like yesterday.
The 2010 Presidential campaigns were unique in so many aspects.
The run up to the 2010 Presidential poll was crowded with outright external hostility towards Rwanda. The international media with some ‘self-anointed’ experts on Rwanda were all up in arms prophesying
dark days ahead of Rwanda’s future. Some, going to the extent of predicting another Genocide.
The weapon that silenced them was only one; the 97.5 percent voter turn-out, in an election which sections of the routine noise makers had deliberately chosen to smear.
The overwhelming endorsement of the incumbent, in an election which received a clean bill of health from all observers was also another knock-out punch for those that had made it their duty to discredit the entire process.
One year ago, I vividly recall the ecstatic crowds, surging in numbers and roaring upon the mention of the RPF candidate. I recall the sea of people, trekking to campaign grounds in the wee hours of the morning and braving the scorching sun all day to wait for candidate Paul Kagame. Oh yes, I remember Gicumbi, whose beautiful hills had been submerged with a sea of Red, White and Blue!
I vividly remember stories of mothers going into labour, or some giving birth at campaign sites. I recall the energetic senior citizens, some hardly able to walk without support but full of energy to be part of history.
I know of young boys and girls turning 18 year and only looking forward to the day they would cast their very first vote, for a man they would never have chance to vote for again.
How about a group of Rwanda’s young professionals, taking leave from their routine work and working like donkeys, night and day, to ensure that their candidate’s campaign schedule goes smoothly.
That was one year ago.
Today, as we recall those great historical moments, we need to reflect on the message that the RPF candidate was sharing with mammoth crowds.
Wherever he went, the President promised Rwandans a replication of his government’s achievements many times over. He talked of how the Rwandan people had overcome the hard times and how the nation was now on road to meaningful socio-economic transformation. His vision lay in wealth
creation for all Rwandans.
Notably, President Paul Kagame’s second mandate started at a time the EDPRS program was only two years to conclusion. It also started at a time Rwandans were half-way in the implementation of vision 2020, all important documents that lay the footprint for shifting from a poor nation to a middle income nation.
The path towards a middle income nation has already seen some light, going by some macro-economic indicators. For example, per capita incomes have risen from the meager $ 230 to about USD 550 though tight measures need to be put in place to ensure a steady reduction in income disparities.
We all agree that the journey towards a middle income nation is already in full gear and can easily be achieved, given the track record of this country. However, we also need to equally acknowledge that this ambitious plan still faces enormous hurdles given both external and internal factors that continue to be a pain.
Externally, Wall Street continues to bleed ever since the start of the economic meltdown. This endless financial instability will continue to hamper the speed at which Rwanda’s drivers would want to move.
The ever rising fuel costs continue to pile inflationary pressure on our economy, hampering a smooth implementation of macro-economic policies.
Internally, much as we are contented with the issue of food security, where a Rwandan will at least afford a meal each day (unlike what we see in the region), the agricultural sector continues to be largely
subsistence. I know the plans and programs in this sector are quite ambitious, but as vision 2020 approaches, we need to draw measures on how to expedite this transformation into a capital intensive
agricultural sector that will ensure more returns for our people.
The will is there and basics are already in place. What we only need is to have a sense of urgency in whatever we do, both public and private.
As we commemorate a year after that historic poll, the best retirement reward for President Kagame, is putting our hands together to ensure Rwanda becomes a middle income nation within the time frame
It is ambitious but certainly very achievable.
on twitter @asiimwe