Lawmakers endorse Elders Advisory Forum

The Chamber of Deputies, on Tuesday, approved a Bill establishing the Rwandan Elders’ Advisory Forum (Reaf).
An elderly man leaves a graduation ceremony in Kigali recently. A new law will establish an elders’ forum. The New Times/  Timothy Kisambira.
An elderly man leaves a graduation ceremony in Kigali recently. A new law will establish an elders’ forum. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

The Chamber of Deputies, on Tuesday, approved a Bill establishing the Rwandan Elders’ Advisory Forum (Reaf).

The Bill will now head to the Senate for more scrutiny before it is promulgated. 

While tabling the Bill in February, Justice Minister Tharcise Karugarama appealed to lawmakers to speed up the set up of what he, at the time, termed as a forum of the country’s wise men.

Presenting their report, on Monday, MP Constance Rwaka Mukayuhi, the chairperson of the standing Committee on National Budget and Patrimony, said they considered that the Office of the Auditor General of State Finances (OAG) would ably audit the forum’s finances and property.

Once established, the Forum will advise government on several issues, including national political orientation and challenges of political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, among others.

Lawmakers appreciated the effort put in by Mukayuhi’s team.

“The views we gave them were incorporated and the Bill as it is today is satisfactory. In general, even if there are very few things to fine-tune, the bill was properly scrutinised. The budget committee did a good job,” MP Joseph Desire Nyandwi said on Tuesday.

Composition

It is proposed that the forum will comprise the elderly, defined as persons above 50 years of age, patriotic nationals from various domains, including academia, retired civil servants, military and businesspersons.

According to Karugarama, the forum will act as a “think tank for national development.”

Karugarama told lawmakers last month that membership shall be voluntary and flexible.

He cited outstanding people such as President Paul Kagame, the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, President of the Senate, the Chief Justice, university professors and many others, as possible members of such a high-level national think tank.

The Forum will have two organs; the Council of Elders and the Bureau. The Council of Elders which is the supreme authority of the Forum, will be comprised of seven elders, including the chairperson and the vice chairperson but at least 30 per cent of them must be female.

Article 6 of the Bill under administrative and financial management states that the Forum shall have support and technical staff governed by the General Statute for Public Service and any other administrative and financial matters of the Forum shall be determined by a Presidential Order.

Essence of elders’ forum

Minister Karugarama on Tuesday told The New Times that there are so many people who retire yet they are still active, able and intellectually sound and could benefit the nation.

“The aim of this Forum is to tap that wide expertise and experience, be able to put together all these intellectual elders so that the country does not lose that unique experience and special expertise they have in different domains,” Karugarama said.

“This is not unique to Rwanda. The world over, in all developed countries, you have these forums. Sometimes they call them think tanks, sometimes they call them forums – these are areas where special talent is stored, and it is exploited, for the benefit of the nation.”

Additional reporting
by Jean Damascene Niyitegeka

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