President Paul Kagame says Rwanda is doing just fine and will not be distracted by those levelling unwarranted accusations against the government, pointing out that despite several challenges brought about by the New Coronavirus pandemic, the country will continue to progress unperturbed.
The Head of State, who is also the Chairman of the ruling party, the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) made the remarks on Monday, while presiding over the party’s extended National Executive Committee (NEC), which was aimed at taking stock of the progress in fighting COVID-19 and asses economic recovery plans.
President Kagame reflected on the recent developments revolving around Rwanda, pointing out that the country has many detractors who don’t wish to see it doing well, by coming up with all sorts of allegations but he emphasised that nobody can dictate what Rwanda should be or aspires to be.
The Head of State said that he has no problem with being insulted or Rwanda being called a ‘dictatorship’ as long as long as they don’t interfere with the country’s right to defend its territory or determine its development course.
“We are ok as a country, despite the few challenges we face, that we must address. We are on the right path. Those who are not wishing us well are also struggling with their own issues,” President Kagame said, urging leaders to focus on issues that matter for Rwandans and work on them with a sense of urgency.
“These meetings serve to ensure that we are not deterred from our development path by the COVID-19 pandemic,” President Kagame said, pointing out that the outbreak affected all sectors of the economy, from education to agriculture and business.
President Kagame said that the government is doing all it can to ensure that life continues because when a business person isn’t able to trade, or children are not going to school, it becomes a problem not only for the people but also for the economy in general.
He said that whatever the government does is and should be for the wellbeing of Rwandans, something he said is a mandate that does not change under any circumstances.
“People should get what they deserve. We cannot be drawn back to where this country came from,” President Kagame said, highlighting some of the challenges the country went through in the past, due to bad leadership, something he said RPF came to change.
Among other things, he said Rwanda today gives everybody an opportunity to be part of it, including foreigners who wish to have citizenship, unlike in the past when it was alleged that the country was full and there was no room for more people, until Rwandans in exile had to return forcefully.
He said the ruling party will continue working towards achieving the goal but each and every Rwanda will have to play their part, especially young people, who he challenged to be solution seekers and stop pointing out where problems are in society without doing anything about them.
“For all our aspirations to be achieved, it will require effort from everyone, you and me. We may defer in ways we think or do things, but we have a common vision, building the nation. Everyone must make their contribution to move the country forward,”
“We face challenges in different forms; in our communities, as a nation, in the region we live in or even at the global scale. Overcoming these problems requires working together. Rwanda is not an island,”
Reject bad services
President Kagame said that the biggest challenge the country faces today is poor service delivery, not because of lack of infrastructure or means to provide good services but mainly because of a poor attitude that doesn’t give priority to urgency.
“We need to be doing things at the pace we need to develop. We need to do things faster and better. Mindset is very important,” President Kagame said, pointing out that it is a common practice for people employed to provide certain services to renege on their responsibilities, not because they lack the means or infrastructure to do what they are expected of, but because of a poor mindset.
Among other things he said there is a tendency of people saying that ‘the machine is not working’, ‘come back tomorrow’, ‘we don’t have this or that’, just to delay a service that must be given to a citizen.
“The issue is in people’s mindsets. If you have everything required to give a service, why don’t you give the service? Why do you have to wait for another hour, another day to give a service you should give, there and then?”
He pointed out that that mindset or attitude cannot be imported from anywhere but it needs people to proactively reject bad service.
“It happens because of two reasons -the person who is supposed to give the service and is not doing so and you who is supposed to get a service and you don’t get it and then all of us who become part of the problem,”
“If you just accept things to be that way, you walk out of the room and go complaining on the way or you vent your anger elsewhere, you are part of the problem because you are not doing anything about it,” President Kagame said.
He urged the youth especially to be categorical in rejecting bad services and to also do something to address it rather than complaining.
President Kagame gave an example of a pregnant woman in Karongi district woman who lost her life and that of her baby due to sheer negligence because they could not trace her Mutuelle de Sante file yet she had paid her dues.
He said the woman was tossed up and down and told that they needed to address the issue regarding her records with the headquarters in Kigali and they asked her to go back home and wait, yet the woman had paid and needed a service urgently.
“It was not because she hadn’t paid. The problem was with the people supposed to give her a service. It was their mistake. They sent her back, later in the evening that same day, she died delivering. The baby died too. This is a true story,”
“Let us assume that she had other serious issues to address, first give her a service and settle whatever issue there is later,” President Kagame.
President Kagame said that what is unfortunate is that even the death of a person or people does not change anything -people continue to go about their work with the same attitude, adding that it is the innocent people who pay the price. He urged leaders to address issues around service delivery as soon as possible.
During the meeting which mainly focused on the COVID-19 impact on the country and recovery plans, the Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije gave an update on the status of the pandemic and the different efforts to contain, the trends of the virus, declining numbers and trends which the government bases on to make decisions.
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana also gave a presentation on the impact of COVID-19 on the country as well as efforts to resuscitate the economy over the next three years, while the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Geraldine Mukeshimana briefed the meeting on the food security situation.
Others who spoke include the Minister of Local Government Prof. Anastase Shyaka, the Minister of Education Dr Valentine Uwamariya, who briefed the meeting on the planned gradual school reopening while the Minister of ICT and Innovation Paul Ingabire spoke about the role of technology in fighting COVID-19.
The Chairman of the Private Sector Federation (PSF) Robert Bafakulera and the CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB) Clare Akamanzi briefed the meeting on the different efforts to support the private sector, which was hard hit by the pandemic, to get back on its feet.