As the Ninth National Dialogue gets underway, today, at the Parliamentary Buildings, I cannot help but feel immensely proud of the various initiatives that our government has come up with to ensure that citizens have a platform to questions leaders.
When Rwandans decided to have a national dialogue (Umushyikirano), they wanted to not only ensure that they are always in the loop with regard to what their government is doing, but to also get involved as much as possible.
Eight years on, the annual National Dialogue has contributed immensely to enhancing citizen participation in issues of public policy, but more importantly, to hold their leaders accountable.
Crucially, the unprecedented interaction of these fora has since 2009, demystified governance and exposed irregularities.
Leaders have been put to task to answer questions from members of the public – including the Diaspora – through live phone-ins or text messages.
The openness that has characterised Umushyikirano fora is just next to none, and demonstrates government’s commitment to democracy, citizen empowerment and free speech.
Through Umushyikirano, ordinary citizens have had a chance to express their views on various government programmes such as: Girinka and anti-Nyakatsi, resulting to better performance. These meetings have helped foster a culture of accountability among our leaders, and helped transform the country in many ways.