Nyamagabe District for the second time this year emerged the best district in the performance contracts.
In light of this sterling performance The New Times’s Paul Ntambara spoke to the Mayor Alphonse Munyentwari on the district’s basic attributes that has seen it attain its top position. Excerpts
TNT: Share with our readers the leadership style and its uniqueness which makes your district emerge the best.
MAYOR : It is all about empowering our team (district personnel), building its capacity, confidence and commitment. We equally mobilise our partners and the population for full participation and ownership of planned activities.
TNT: How do you rally the various constituencies to drive forward development activities?
MAYOR: We involve all stakeholders right from planning phase to the celebration of the achievements. We work as a team that is our style.
TNT: You are one of the local leaders who are making the difference in a situation where a huge number of your counterparts have been fired or resigned due to incompetence or corruption.
What is your secret in keeping together a committed team of employees focused on producing results?
MAYOR: Leadership requires various skills but the bottom line is building a committed team, motivate the team, set targets, and have a system of monitoring and evaluation.
Then what seemed like a difficult task is made easy.
TNT: Let’s talk about investments. What is happening in Nyamagabe? I have noticed that very many districts have incorporated special purpose investment vehicles championed by local leaders.
MAYOR: We have MIG SA as an investment group that has started to invest in coffee, tea and honey processing.
TNT: The local people countrywide seem not to have the culture of entrepreneurship which is key to private sector development. How is your council doing to correct this situation?
MAYOR: We have started to sensitise and orient residents to abandon the old fashioned way of doing business. We thus encourage them to have a profit mind set an entrepreneurial mindset.
We also tell them to critically look at the very best opportunities around them for the purposes of making more revenues- more money, as we provide them with required infrastructure and capacity building activities.
TNT: Can you share with our readers some of the unique investment opportunities the district can offer investors.
MAYOR: We invite investors to focus on bee keeping and honey processing. We have abundant opportunities in the tea and coffee sector where we insist on value addition.
We have investment opportunities in wheat and cassava growing and processing, as well as in tourism and education.
TNT: What is the approximate value of investment needed every year to turn around the opportunities you have outlined above. How are the locals going to participate given their shortcomings?
MAYOR: The total budget of our five-year district development plan is about Rwf62 billion.
This budget was made taking into consideration the amount of money that can be available from different partners. Otherwise investment in Nyamagabe requires a lot more funding capacity.
Residents have started to improve their production by focusing on some off farm activities. We have equally started Saving and Credit Cooperatives at sector levels.
This will enable them to have access to some capital to enable them partake in some of those investment opportunities existent in the district.
TNT: Unity and Reconciliation is important in bringing about development. How are your efforts coming out in this line?
MAYOR: All district organs have put much effort in sensitising people against hatred and divisionism because it is a source of insecurity and poverty. We always tell our residents that such a culture cannot allow development to thrive.
These efforts are already bearing fruit. There is now a peaceful co-existence within our population.
TNT: On the ‘One dollar’ campaign, what are the inputs from Nyamagabe? Do you have unique programmes to assist the survivors of the Genocide?
MAYOR: Our contribution in the ‘one dollar’ campaign amounts to Rwf 3.7 million.
We have started to assist survivors of genocide in a sustainable way by crafting assistance programmes based on what they have, like their land. Some of them, through such assistance have got coffee plantations and other income generating projects.
But it is still on very low average compared to the number of those in need of assistance. We have to move faster in that way.
TNT: What is your message to the other mayors in the country with respect to service delivery?
MAYOR: We have to make sure that we constantly improve service delivery not only within local government but also in private sector, and make it become part of our new culture.