The Ministry of Local Government launched the Governance Month which, according to Minister James Musoni, will help tackle matters and complaints raised by ordinary citizens in their respective localities.
Good governance is a common mantra in matters pertaining development.
Development partners, civil society, and government know there can never be transformation without good governance. But what is good governance?
The need for good governance was first highlighted in the 1990s by Western donors who rightly argued that, without good governance aid to developing countries would have no impact.
According to them, corrupt, unaccountable leaders represent bad governance.
Therefore, good governance is seen as crucial for effective utilisation of aid.
Precisely, governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are either implemented or not.
Governance can also be described as a set of values, policies, and institutions by which society manages its economic, political and social processes at all levels through interaction between government, civil society and private sector.
Good governance, therefore, indicates a process through which political, social and economic priorities are based in society, where citizens particularly the voiceless are heard and respected in matters of decision-making and over the allocation of resources.
Up to eight interlinked benchmarks help to determine the good governance status, according to experts.
In no particular order, they include leadership, accountability, transparency in decision-making and allocation of resources, citizen participation, the rule of law, efficiency and effectiveness, institutional responsibility, equity and inclusiveness, and consensus building.
What is the state of affairs in Rwanda?
It is necessary to understand the benchmarks to determine the state of good governance in the country. Is there rule of law? Are decisions taken by institutions supposed to? Is the legislative power influenced or there is free debate?
We shall look at the country’s credentials along the mentioned benchmarks.
Rwanda’s governance sheet [despite isolated cases of bad] is laden with clear evidence of good governance.
Looking at what goes on in the country reveals that before many policy processes take place, citizens or their representatives are invited to participate.
The government is also well known for its strong stance against corruption.
The political situation is such that both winners and losers come together and share development ideas. Key decisions on resources allocation, public investment are made by official organs including Parliament or Cabinet.
Public institutions are put on the spot if they cannot respond to wider citizen demands.
On the use of taxpayers’ money, there are established criteria used in the disbursement of government funds and businesses are helped to reach wider markets through the government.
What breeds bad governance?
There is adherence to the rule of law, with the executive arm of the government as the custodian of the Constitution. Basically, the country’s good governance record is clean.
In line with the Governance Month, to sustain good governance, there is need to fight citizen’s indifference, which, according to experts, breeds bad governance.
Citizens should be encouraged to confront local leaders [call it the state] to make it more accountable.
We all read about cases of local leaders who have been interdicted over alleged corruption. The Ombudsman has exposed several cases.
During the Governance month, we should put emphasis on sensitising residents to claim more substantive citizenship by showing interest in what takes place in their country as it affects them.
There is need for Rwandans to know that there is a direct link between leadership and what affects them. Citizens must become more conscious and link their role to shaping the outcome of leaders’ performance contracts.