Change with stability and continuity: A political home work. Part VIII

As pointed out in the previous article, one of the pillars of and the cornerstone of our transformation and indeed socio-economic development has been strong security for people and their properties whether Rwandans, or foreigners/investors. But like other sectors of our economy, our security evolved by paying an extremely high price, and architects of the same did our country proud.
Prof. Nshuti Manasseh
Prof. Nshuti Manasseh

As pointed out in the previous article, one of the pillars of and the cornerstone of our transformation and indeed socio-economic development has been strong security for people and their properties whether Rwandans, or foreigners/investors. But like other sectors of our economy, our security evolved by paying an extremely high price, and architects of the same did our country proud.

Our security (defense systems/institutions) have evolved to meet the challenges we faced before, during and after 1994 genocide. Security threats ahead of us as we develop as a country, will be even more challenging given challenges that comes with development and the dynamic nature of agents of development with their varying and sometimes conflicting/overlapping interests.

 

If we factor in our past security threats whose forms have changed, but the substance remains the same, means that, our change with stability and continuity has to be analyzed in the context of our past, present and indeed our future threats.

 

Debating the same in abstract is not only dangerous, but also makes this critical home work lose its meaning which is certainly not what responsible citizens should do.

 

Security and specifically our defense construct has been designed to contain the threats we face as a people and country and as such it is as dynamic as threats we face. As pointed out earlier, these threats can only be contained or mitigated at best if we maintain strong leadership by our ablest, most dedicated and toughest, has the extra drive, intellectual verve, an extra tenacity and the will to overcome our security threats.

The history of political succession recorded in Africa so far, is not encouraging, especially changes from exemplary leadership in place at the time. A number of researchers on political succession and development in developing countries indicate chilling, but realistic results on political changes that have taken place over the last two decades.

Thus Greengald (2006) points that, 70 percent of the cases of political successions ended up with total reversal of what outgoing exemplary leaders had achieved within a span of not more than five years of succession. He points that security and perceptions of safety of people and their properties is the first casualty of such changes and consequently all that was dependent on the same (mainly development).  

He argues that, the failure rate goes up to 86 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, where such changes led to the fundamental reversal of the gains made to such extent that, the incoming leadership faced internal revolts as consequence of reversal of achievements made by the previous exemplary leadership, and that, this in most cases led to civil wars and total destruction of that, that had achieved at such a high price.

He further argues that, three out of four unsustainable regimes changes were in Africa, where succession was imposed by either external forces, threats from revolutionaries or counterrevolutionaries or even secessionist forces, all of which created a crisis of confidence in the underlying economies, with the consequent that, haste successions ended up in total failure, and attendant misery to citizens, when political top echelons fled to their comfort zones in the west.

Such systematic vulnerability is typical of our environment in Rwanda today, which is why such failed succession trends should inform our political home work.

Besides, if we go by the above research that covered 38 developing countries both in Africa as well as Asia, one can infer that, the trend holds true for our country in most, if not in all aspects. Going by this research, eight out ten chances are that, the result of the above research hold true for us, if the homework at hand is not prudently executed. Which therefore means that, empirically, we have two out ten chances of getting right or eight out ten chances of getting wrong (change with uncertainty and instability), a very high probability of failure indeed and one that questions the rationale for change anyway.   

Furthermore, in his research on economic growth and political succession, Keisall (2013), perhaps the most recent research on political succession, which feeds pretty well into our political home work, found out that, political succession can only succeed under two main conditions among others.

First, where a strong and visionary leader is succeeded by yet another strong visionary leader with leadership experience and track record that matches the outgoing leader, to the extent that, the incoming leader sustains the moral authority of outgoing leader thereby sustaining public confidence the outgoing leader had marshaled.

If no individual fits this condition and no public consensus on the same, such succession is bound to fail, with consequent reversal of all gains, economic, political, as well as social, usually at a high price.

That President Paul Kagame, perfectly fits in the above research as one such exemplary and visionary leader we ever had as a country, and that no candidate at least those we know of amongst street names floated, make results of the above research conclusive for Rwanda as well.

The second, and perhaps more important condition is that, a strong and visionary leader can only be succeeded successfully, if the country in question has developed strong institutions, and institutional frame work that stakeholders/citizens believe in to the extent that these can (ensure/assure) safeguard their interests, short of which such succession is bound to fail as stakeholders’ anxiety over the deficits of the incoming leader and the general perception of capricious governance deficits discourages potential investors whether local or foreign so much so that, this stall the economy in the extreme, and with it chaos consequent.

This then leads to high levels of patronage and corruption of kleptocratic proportions all aimed at bridging (leveraging) governance deficits of the incoming leaders, which then leads to revolts and civil disobedience, all of which are hallmarks of insecurity, that has cyclic effect.

As pointed out in the earlier series, these two conditions are not met in Rwanda, and this makes our homework even more difficult except for those with ultra motives, self seekers, and self interested parties.

And although these are to be found in all societies, they cannot define our national interests, which by far exceeds personal or group interest. Thus, this debate is healthy and every Rwandan is entitled to his/her opinion, but when it comes to our unit of purpose, prudence and serious soul searching should inform what is in our best interest.

For at stake is so much, and so dear for us, and for generations to come, that any gamble, haste, emotive or imprudent discernment should be avoided in this debate rest we discount the very essence and indeed intrinsic value of this very critical debate.

We can’t, for this change is ours. All ours.

To be continued…

The writer is an economist and financial expert.

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