President Paul Kagame has told Local Government Leaders that they should think hard to find solutions to tough problems affecting the people.
The president was launching a three day retreat for local government bringing together officials including Mayors and Vice Mayors, Executive Secretaries of districts and sectors, together with district councilors.
The bi-annual retreat was launched at Kigali in-door stadium on Wednesday.
President Kagame gave an illustration of a farmer in Eastern Province who closed his farm against his neighbors and they could not access the water source.
This was a metaphor to explain the need to think harder when you have more problems than your neighbor who does not.
“Would you afford to think like that person who has nothing to risk? You think much harder in such a scenario,” Kagame said.
“Similarly, as a country, how can we afford to think about a country that has access to the sea while for us we are landlocked? We must think much harder about the way we solve our problems.”
The President also talked about people who hatched a plan to surround Rwanda with problems until the country gets suffocated.
“You know we should be like cow butter. When you try to squeeze butter in your hands, you cannot manage because it will flow through your fingers,” he said.
“You should never allow anyone to strangle our country. We cannot allow ourselves a luxury to think like a neighbor who does not have a problem. We should think far beyond,” he said.
For the president, Rwanda has her own problems, but also problems it shares with others, which makes it a double burden.
During his speech, the president tackled specific issues within local governance, but all was pointing to service delivery and putting the ‘citizen at the center of the service’, which is the theme of the retreat.
“It is common sense that human beings seek the best for themselves, their families, but leaders should understand that if the citizen is not okay, you cannot be okay either,” he said.
The president reiterated a problem that he even talked about during the national leadership- retreat which some of the leaders at the current event did not attend.
They had an opportunity to get the first hand information themselves as well.
“It is really unacceptable that we still have street children…this issue of malnutrition and people who are dying of jiggers,” he said.
“And unfortunately you see arrogant leaders who think they are very important and well off when they have neighbors suffering with jiggers. At the end of the day, reports will show that we are all the same. If you think that you are better and beyond us, you should find another place to live so that you are not counted among us ‘the underprivileged”.
Kagame said there is a kind of laxity among leaders who do not keep records and take note of what is happening.
For example, he mentioned a case of young people who come up with innovations and, at the end of the day when you ask their whereabouts, you find that no one followed them up.
On problems that keep coming back, the President said that leaders “take three months to solve a problem that could take one week. This brings you more troubles.”
For failure to perform, Kagame said the leaders will be held accountable, but his main concern is that, those leaders that are meant to hold others accountable are also corrupt.
“How can you hold your accomplice accountable?”
All in all, the president said “if you are not solving the problems of the citizen you will not go to heaven. I heard the arrogant people will never go there,” he said challenging the idea that people should be concerned with better life after death.
He said that the preparation for the good life after death should start from here on earth.