Change with stability and continuity: A political homework. Part VII

Drawing from the massive response from the readers of these series (in their thousands), one thing is clear: the political debate is getting more clearer, and no more confusion of what is at stake. 
Prof. Nshuti Manasseh
Prof. Nshuti Manasseh

Drawing from the massive response from the readers of these series (in their thousands), one thing is clear: the political debate is getting more clearer, and no more confusion of what is at stake. 

At stake, is not the mere consequence of change in the leadership of President Paul Kagame per se, but rather the positive transformational change in the lives of nationals/Rwandans and similarly stability as sustained and uninterrupted levels of development and the resulting confidence/trust in the nationals that a country will keep doing so in the foreseeable future, and can be sustained for the generations to come.

Transformational Change

That our country has experienced transformational changes in all sectors of our economy, and by extension in the lives of average Rwandans is not debatable even by the diehard critics of our government, most of whom have not been part of this change, and do not want to accept that it happened, for doing so would be to vindicate the mess they left in our country and with our country. Transformational changes has first and foremost been acknowledged and appreciated by rational Rwandans, and later on put on record by both multilateral as well as bilateral agencies, which have either been party to this change, or watchdogs over the same and have to give reports on such sectors as economy (in particular record poverty reduction levels of uplifting one millions Rwandans out of poverty), social sectors such as health, social security, unity and reconciliation, law and order, orderliness…pick any sector. 

Such changes have, as pointed out earlier, been case study for other Africans and beyond, who have dubbed it many forms including ‘miraculous’, un-African (coordination of our activities and orderliness thereof) name it. But these changes have not been self-propelled, but rather, there has been causation process responsible for this.

Exemplary leadership by President Paul Kagame which has mobilized and coordinated the underlying causation process that has led to the changes we witness. Clearly (to most readers of these series), this then means that for Rwandans to let President Paul Kagame continue with the transformational agenda (change) of this country, his agenda need not be interrupted (stability) at least within given amount of time so as to ensure that, this change is sustained, for us, and for generations to come. To most of the commentators therefore, it is not a matter of whether we should not change (stability), but how long he can be requested to continue his transformational leadership of our country.

In his research on development economics and defense, Bellaver (2004) posits that, leaders emerge once in lifetime of developing nation and leave a developmental record that is unmatched for generations.

He points out that, it is only strong institutions that can sustain such transformation record after such leaders have left office, and without which such a record is but, a golden passing cloud. He then argues that, leaders are born and managers trained. That a country with a manager and not a leader, has nothing to show for her transformational agenda. If his theory can be validated in our case, President Paul Kagame, is such a lifetime transformation leader our country has ever had, and indeed the political home work becomes even more difficult going by the research above, that is hugely trended.

For most part, our institutions/achievements are still work in progress and in fact some are even in their conceptual framework, that, they cannot withstand serious shock, internal or external (recent actions by donors attest to this). Not factoring this context in our political debate, is being unstructured. But consequences of not doing so, are structured and in waiting. We have come from quite far as a people and country, but the journey is much longer too. Disrupting this process by any means and forms for emotive reasons or otherwise has a price tag we may not afford to pay as a people.  


“Without a strong economy, there can be no strong defence. Without a strong defence, there can be no Singapore…(read Rwanda) to maintain a strong economy and a strong defence … the government must be led by the ablest, most dedicated and toughest...I think you are a born leader or you are not leader. They must have the extra drive, intellectual verve, an extra tenacity and the will to overcome” (Former Singaporean Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew who transformed his country to what it is today).

One of the strong pillars and indeed cornerstone of our transformation and socio-economic development has been strong (defence) security for our people and their properties whether Rwandans, or foreigners/investors alike. But like other sectors of our development, our security systems evolved by paying an extremely high price.

Architects of the same did our country proud and certainly President Paul Kagame has been the main architect, which is why the mention of the change homework, puts to question which other Rwandan has similar CV to sustain the same, and without which the rest of achievements would evaporate in our eyes.

Our security (defence systems/institutions) has evolved to meet the challenges we faced before, during and after 1994 genocide. Up until 1994, and into late 1999, our country faced extreme insecurity of any country anywhere.

Few Rwandans believed that, we could be as safe as we are today. Threats of the defeated Ex-far interahamwe, and their agents were still among us, with their “ideologue of unfinished business…literally meaning to kill all Tutsis, and as they said…”until their future generations would ask how Tutsis looked like”. 

And although this ideologue is alive a broad and more so among FDLR, our security institutions from defence, police, local communities etc have done a terrific job by all standards of measure to ensure that, we have total security within our boarders and that, our country remains inviolable by any means.

That we boost such comprehensive security is not given, nor is it an act in isolation considering that, it is a rare resource in most African nation states.

It is also neither a permanent feature that can be taken for granted. It has been designed, coordinated and implemented with such a precision that, any threat of change may not guarantee continuity of our current security system which makes the current home work intriguing if security is factored into context.

Wynia (1979) commented that, security establishment in a developing country is an agent and supporter of fundamental societal change and thus an anchor of economic growth and development without which these remain mere statement of intention.

He then points out that, for security to evolve into a sustainable institution/ culture, it takes at least two decades of strong and visionary leadership, and that, such security much as it has to be dynamic to answer threats a country faces, it is as a good as its architect in the short-term (formation stages).

Stable and efficient security systems sends signals to economic agents as to which planning they would have to make, and by extension which investments they should/should not undertake in a developing economy.

This is true for both local and much more for foreign investors who give a premium to a country’s security setting and any threats to the same changes their planning horizons and decision making accordingly. That our security systems are quite efficient is not in doubt, what makes it doubtable is the homework before us that may derail this.

Given its stage of development, our security construct is like other sectors of our economy, at its transformation stage, and for it to safeguard our qualitative edge for now and in the future, strong leadership is critical.

A leadership that understands our threats local, regional as well as international and can manage these. Such must inform our political homework.

If we look into the rear mirror, which shows serious dark era of government sectarianism of the highest order, ethnic discrimination unknown in history of mankind, repression name it, then our current security construct becomes more clearer.

It however becomes blurred as one looks ahead into the future, if you factor in change, no matter which. As they the adage goes “a successful enterprise private or public must avoid bankruptcy, and their blue prints”…security failures are symptomic of enterprise failure. This starts with uncertain change. 

To be continued…

The writer is the Chairman Board of Directors Crystal Ventures Ltd

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