A political homework: readers’ digest part III

A combination of readers’ opinions, and those of general Rwandese public where President Kagame has been visiting up country of late, shade light as to the direction of our political debate.
Prof. Manasseh Nshuti
Prof. Manasseh Nshuti

A combination of readers’ opinions, and those of general Rwandese public where President Kagame has been visiting up country of late, shade light as to the direction of our political debate.

Demands by Rwandese requesting him to serve beyond 2017, are indicative of the trust The President has earned from his compatriots (reflected in his government’s effectiveness, which is the highest in Sub Saharan Africa, rated at 95 per cent) and one that can neither be  discounted nor wish away or underestimated, but one to hold on too.

It is this exemplary leadership that has ensured effective governance kin to a private sector blue chip companies which maintain their CEO, renewing their contracts as long as their bottom line is impressive and measures to shareholders’ expectations (read Rwandese in our case).


Our effective and efficient leadership and change thereof, is the main reason why the debate is alive in the first place. Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been one in the first place.

It is the exemplary performance of President Kagame which turned round all our sectors making them top on our continent as well as in the world-wide rankings from highest economic growth rates, to highest gender equality, lowest corruption levels (even better than recorded in developed world), lowest mortality rates, highest school enrolments, most secure environment, most, most...it is all these results we have, see and feel, that in my opinion negates the essence of this debate.

Change from exemplary performance to what? If available research indicates that, up to 80% changes from exemplary leadership in Africa recently, lead to fundamental failures and total reversal of what has been attained, why change to unknowns.

My best guess is known of disastrous failures we cannot afford. We have had a terrible record of failures as a people and country, and went too low, the lowest any country can go, that we cannot afford another failures of any sort we can avoid and should avoid.

It is also an indication that, he has no peers in our political panorama, some other names would be floating around by now.

That he towers over our political landscape dwarfing possible contenders makes this home work simple, if one considers that, ours will not be mere change of guards, but rather a fundamental change in Rwanda, and for Rwanda.

And whether we like him or not is not the issue at stake. What matters most is the future of our country, a future that is intrinsically correlated to its abnormal past, if ours were to be a mere change of guard that happens in many other normal countries.

Our abnormal history, and one that led to the genocide of 1994, is not the type of switch on/off phenomenon some simplistic analysts most of whom loaded with either unexplainable indifference, genocide negationists mindset, indelible guilty conscious by genocidaires or their associates.

Our post genocide political dispensation will have to be informed by events leading to, and post this heinous event in our history as a country.  It is a cut-off point in our history, and indeed a point of reference for our political dispensations for generations to come.

Potential contenders?

A number of readers have advanced simplistic theories of how we need to manage our soon to be change.

Reading through their thoughts most of which are passionate, but not persuasive by any stretch of imagination, one captures a serious generational gap, that is either less informed about our context, underestimates the same, or holding onto hope as ultimate strategy.

And so, these same readers have mentioned a few potential leaders who can sustain our stability with certainty. I took a deliberate move of doing oral interviews with more than three quarters of the purported/potential contenders among our top leadership (names withheld at their request). 

No peers?

The more than three quarters I talked too dismissed readers’ suggestions as possible alternatives as wish hog. Their main strand of arguments hinges on the nature of abnormal Rwanda we inherited from bankrupt and extremely divisive political regime our country had.

These potentials all agree that, it will be disastrous to change our political dispensation now. All agree to one thing: that exemplary leadership of President Kagame, should not be disrupted at any cost, and for any reason.

Majority of these leaders pointed out that, it is too early to play change games, that may work in other countries except in Rwanda. They all argued that, President Kagame’s moral integrity both within and without our country, is a huge asset none of these potentials could martial, to enhance the development of our country.

They dismissed this as an idea whose time has not come and one that has not crossed their minds at any point in time. They did point out that, managing even their respective sectors/responsibilities is elephant, that the job of Presidency of our abnormal Rwanda is not a job any one may wish to apply for.

If one can go by this sample which under ideal conditions (in most other systems) would have generated a heir apparent one wonders who?

Heir apparent?

Ideally, a tested, trusted, and ideological political correct heir should have emerged by now, if this home work was to have an alternative to the exemplary leadership of President Kagame.

That there is no one among our top leaders to measure and assume the huge responsibility of leading this unique country of ours is an answer to our home work.

An answer that, we don’t have an alternative for now. Some will urge that, this is a failure of President Kagame to mentor a successor. I seriously disagree with this hypothesis.

First, President Kagame was pre-occupied with our transformative process (of our abnormal Rwanda) that was so demanding that, as it is, our country started to shape up around 2005, a too short-time to mentor someone, in my opinion.

Secondly, a potential heir apparent emerges through a natural process of distinction, and that, no one has emerged for now who Rwandese can see as one to take over this unique country cannot be blamed on the President.

Besides, a number of would be potentials failed even to manage sectors entrusted to them to the extent that, it would be bizarre to entrust these with the management of a unique entire entity - Rwanda.  If the alternative potentials or option is eliminated as is the case, then our sustainability and stability can only be maintained by President Kagame. Question is:  How? This then emerges as the theme of our debate.

The time factor:

A number of readers have raised the issue of whether President Kagame will accept another term of office, and my answer is similar to their question. Will he? Although I have not interviewed him over this issue, I can say with certainty that, he faces hard time to make a choice, given that he has to weigh his wish against the wishes of majority Rwandans.

What is certain is that, there will be a time he will not be there as our leader. The issue is; when is that time? Given our contextual frame work, should that time be determined by our constitution or by the will of the people taking into account the nature of our country, and his exemplary achievements against all odds unimaginable.

Bearing in mind that, a constitution represents the will of the people, but not stone cast. It is a living document that can be changed by the very will of a people that voted it in the first place, if this change serves their interests. In our case, it absolutely does. This is where our debate should be centred, if we as a people and a country, are to get a correct answer to our political homework. Going by the views of majority readers of these series, our transition should be rationally planned and executed if we are to avoid change for the sake of change with consequences we cannot underwrite.

And so, how much more time should our transition period be post 2017, should in my opinion, and that of majority readers be the centre piece of our debate. 

The writer is an economist and a financial expert.

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