In a consultative meeting organized by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit yesterday at Hotel Novotel, all indications were that Rwanda’s accession to the Commonwealth as the 54th member state was a done deal.
Judging from the confident presentations made by the two ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Justice, and the remarks made by the CPSU staff, it seemed like the only thing standing between Rwanda’s gaining membership is the 15 months to the next CHOGM in Trinidad and Tobago, November next year.
Now that it is simply a matter of time, Rwandans are free to wonder loudly what the benefits of joining the body will be. They can now also openly talk about what their contribution to the body, mainly made up of former British colonies, will be.
The Commonwealth is composed of rich and poor countries, the peaceful and those with internal conflicts, the well governed and those yet to reach this state.
In it there are nations who are among the champions of democracy and others at very young stages of the process of democratization.
It so follows that even young Rwanda (context here being that it virtually died and then resurrected on July 4, 1994) has something to offer.
During the meeting, the CPSU head Victoria te Velde said that “the country (Rwanda) has travelled a challenging journey over 14 years and scored many achievements, causing deep admiration.”
For example Rwanda will be one of the few members whose government ministers double as members of parliament.
That must be good governance at its best, the simple reason being that MPs who are not at the same time members of the executive arm of government will, other factors remaining constant, be more effective in representing their constituents.
Then there is the highest women representation in the national assembly, in the world, plus a constitution which guarantees not less than 30 percent of women representation in government bodies’ decision making positions.
Perhaps it is obvious that a nation torn apart by a gruesome genocide only 14 years ago has for the last five years registered economic growth of not less than 6 percent will face inquiries as to how it has managed to achieve this.
Another related question will be what it has done to ensure the progress it has enjoyed in the unity and reconciliation area.
So much to offer as lessons to, so much to learn from, the Commonwealth.