A team from the Commonwealth Secretariat is currently in Kigali with the duty of making independent, on-the-spot assessment and interacting with government regarding Rwanda’s interest in joining the organisation.
Rwanda is seeking to join the Commonwealth because of the benefit of being part of an organisation of member states which actively seeks and addresses the concerns and needs of its members.
As the situation stands right now, Rwanda particularly has glaring human resource gaps and would greatly benefit from technical and capacity-building assistance the organisation often affords its members.
There are quite a range of other benefits to member states which act as strong incentives for others to join. But there are also conditions to fulfill for a prospective member to be considered eligible. They include good governance, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and democracy.
Fourteen years after devastation of virtually every institutional system in the country, Rwanda is just over two months away from holding the second post-Genocide elections to determine who will be the peoples’ representatives in the national parliament for the next five years.
Talking of the national assembly, the country has the highest number of women parliamentarians in the world - 49%.
Rwanda was also recently reported by the Global Peace Index as second only to Tanzania on the scale of peacefulness in the whole of the Great Lakes region.
There should not be any doubt that the democratisation process the country is undergoing, particularly the confidence the masses draw from it that things can only get better, contributed significantly to the handsome rank - 76th out of 140 countries analysed.
On the independence of the judiciary, one of the things this sector deserves praise for is being able to prosecute all potential criminals including the high and mighty, the well endowed with economic or military influence; the kind of people who in feeble justice systems are able to buy freedom with money, and not with convincing courtroom arguments by their advocates. Another pointer to the team is the Gacaca traditional justice system.
Gacaca has been a hit in handling the huge Genocide cases backlog. It should be seen as an innovation Rwanda can take to the Commonwealth for old members to learn from, a novelty that should impress the Commonwealth team.