By Johnston Busingye
It has been six months since the last government retreat, which means that we are left with the same amount of time until the next annual retreat. If the speed at which things are moving continues, in no time at all the year 2020 will be upon us.
This begs a moment to reflect on how we are working to ensure that we achieve our stated goals and are not caught unawares come 2020.
Whether we will have made good on our vision by January 1, 2020 depends on the level of our political consciousness, and through this, what actions we are undertaking today and the manner in which we are implementing these plans. Vision 2020 will be achieved through the execution of the many different actions envisaged therein, the sum total of which adds up to its realisation.
There is no doubt that Vision 2020 is ambitious and all encompassing. This calls for Rwandans to work hard, work smart and work together, each doing their bit. Creating an environment where Rwandans work in this manner means that we have to build a brand of execution – the Rwanda brand, which demonstrates how we do things and the way in which we want to be identified.
How do I think that we, as leaders in this country, can build a brand of execution that will produce vision 2020?
First and foremost, leaders must understand Vision 2020 – each one and every one of us. Inability to buy into a shared vision paves the way for failure. This is not a new concept. In pre-modern Rwandan society, our ancestors were guided by the principle of Gusenyera umugozi umwe, loosely translated as ‘pulling together.’
Building around a shared vision, they nurtured the culture of collective responsibility, recognizing that they had a common destiny and needed to work together toward the ultimate goal of creating and maintaining the prosperity of their nation, irrespective of other minor differences that may have existed.
By understanding the shared vision, as leaders we will understand our respective institutions’ role in the vision and then pass it on to those we lead, in order to broaden the critical mass. We will also be able to lead by example because we are ourselves convinced.
Indeed, it is a primary responsibility of leadership in a poor country like Rwanda to mobilise the population by raising their consciousness to give meaning to their lives in order to empower men, women and communities to effectively manage all forms of challenges which hinder their development.
In regard to collective responsibility, we must coordinate across institutions to build logic and coherence into our actions because interdependence of institutions must be exercised in the context of a shared vision.
Leaders should actively and aggressively build teams that deliver. As the saying goes, “There are no bad soldiers, only bad officers” – lone warriors make poor leaders.
Practically speaking, tasks should be shared and implemented as agreed. In addition, available resources need to be utilized efficiently without duplication, waste, or stalling.
A leader’s investment eye should be on the quick actions that can turn the institution round in a short time span.
For instance, effective communication – formal as well as informal – is indispensable. No stakeholder, senior or junior, should block useful communication. This is an area where institutions can take advantage of ICT and the many available work tools to create appropriate communications channels and systems to facilitate daily tasks. If all institutions that are connected started now to use ICT in daily tasks, Rwanda’s service delivery indicators would leap to 2010 expectations in 2007.
Today, the use of ICT is neither a matter of choice nor a luxury, but a development imperative.
Whenever possible, we must turn policies and initiatives into opportunities or commodities that have tangible economic benefits including but not limited to investments, loans, grants, trust, credibility, stability, and increased international cooperation.
The innovations and actions that Rwanda is currently implementing in good governance, zero tolerance for corruption, abolition of death penalty, the ICTR completion process, monetary and public finance successes, are not public relations exercises but deliberate developments that will drive advancements in the respective sectors.
As leaders, we also need to be conscious of the cost of poor or slow performance caused by various factors including resistance to change, unproductive habits, indecision, conflict, and bungling bureaucracy.
When we add up the cumulated time loss to the institution and estimate time loss to the country, we can actually calculate how far it throws us from vision 2020. We therefore need to be vigilant and adjust accordingly.
Without a doubt, absence of sanctions perpetuates poor performance and instils complacency. As we have witnessed several times in Rwanda, appointing authorities have removed leaders who fail to deliver for reasons attributable to their style of leadership.
Institutional leaders need follow this example and to set out sanctions for poor performance. These measures must to apply to all levels of management and all staff should be made aware of performance expectations and of the range of sanctions that apply.
On the other hand, leaders must also recognise, as well as reward, good performance and achievement.
If we are to achieve the transformation described in Vision 2020, we must invest in dedicated work involving consistent implementation to achieve concrete results.
We need to work determinedly and with a sense of urgency to achieve real independence that only comes through socioeconomic transformation. We have no choice in the matter; the alternative is accepting to live in poverty.
We have just over thirteen years to go. Every Rwandan has a role to play in making Vision 2020 a reality, but leaders have a greater responsibility in buying into the shared vision and guiding those they lead to contribute to the realisation of the vision in their own interest and the broader interest of the nation.
The writer is the President of the High Court.