Those who thought that President Kagame would ever compromise on his moral and political principles got a rude awakening the other day.
He made it clear that there are two things that he serves: his conscience and his country, suggesting that his conscience is the tribunal before which he judges his conduct, and when done, then the call to serve his country and the Rwandan people supersedes everything else and enables him to forge ahead in bad times and good.
He said this on May 16, 2009 as he was opening the meeting of the Political Bureau of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in his capacity as its Chairman.
He reminded the audience that his style has always been shaped by the desire to abide by a set of principles and values regardless of the prevailing political environment, and that he will never subordinate those principles and values to cheap political expediency and populism.
He reminded the audience that the original mission of the RPF was to assist all Rwandans to build sustainable economic conditions that uplift them from poverty and lead them to prosperity, and urged members to stay true to it.
He said, “My dream has always been to see RPF make a difference in Rwanda where others have failed.”
He underscored the fact that the Rwandan Patriotic Front has transformed Rwanda from an insular, inward looking country to a respectable, respected, and forward looking country.
As a dynamic political organisation, the RPF, too, has had to adapt and transform itself in tune with the times, the mood, and the aspirations of the Rwandan people.
He stressed, however, that “We, as a Party, must continue to make a difference otherwise we become like those who betrayed the Rwandan people, and one way of losing what we have painstakingly achieved is through complacency.”
President Kagame reiterated the message that he has been conveying loud and clear to all Rwandans of late: the need to be truly independent, self-reliant, and self-sufficient.
We have to graduate from being spoon-fed by donors and well-wishers and be ready to stand on our own feet. That is, indeed, the only way we can reclaim our dignity and truly shape our destiny.
He also warned those Party members and Rwandans in general who indulge in corrupt practices and other misdemeanours that prison sentences will no longer be the end of the story.
That was well received by Party members as it has been by Rwandans of all shades. The practice so far has been to throw into prison those who have misappropriated or mismanaged the hard-earned incomes of ordinary Rwandans and let them off after they have served their term of sentence.
What good does it serve if these scavenger government officials are allowed to go off and enjoy their ill-acquired wealth? From now onwards, they will be asked to cough up all they gobbled down their self-serving throats.
The justice system of Rwanda and concerned organs should take up the call of the President in his crusade to create a clean, hard-working, self-respecting, corrupt-free Rwandan society, ready to create for itself a middle income in one generation on a continent that seems to have resigned itself to its misery.