President Paul Kagame says leaders at all levels in the country have no luxury of sitting back or waiting for long to address the problems faced by the citizens because it has implications on the their lives and the country at large.
The Head of State made the observation on Friday in Nyamagabe district on the second day of the Citizen Outreach Programme which continued in the country’s Southern Province.
Speaking to over 80, 000 residents of the district at Nyagisenyi stadium, President Kagame criticized local and central government leaders who take too long to attend to citizen’s problems, allowing them to drag on for a long time, which directly affects the social economic development of the country.
President Kagame said that while tremendous progress has been made over the years, the district remains among those lagging behind because local leaders are sluggish in taking actions on key issues that affect the citizens. He was reacting to the figures earlier shared by the district mayor, which showed the district is yet to achieve set targets on access to services and infrastructure development.
He pointed out that the government cannot fail, within its means, to address some of the challenges that impede development or even fail to find quick alternatives if all institutions worked hand-in-hand with the people.
A case in point is the establishment of a wheat processing factory in the district which is renowned for its wheat farming, which would help to add value to the produce and directly benefit the farmers.
“In simple terms, there are three things; what we say, what we do and the question of what we can afford. Last time I was here, I was informed about the challenges regarding having a wheat processing plant,”
“We discussed what was needed and we agreed on the actions to be taken and we left. Several years later I came back, the same issue resurfaced and again we agreed on the practical steps to be taken, but even today the same issue still exists,” President Kagame said.
He said that in between, no institution takes responsibility to follow up on the matter, and even if there is something needed to get it done, it is not mentioned.
President Kagame tasked the officials to explain what happened and the Mayor of Nyamagabe, Hildebrand Niyomwungeri said that the old factory was bought but it was later found that the machinery was outdated and there was a need for new modern machines.
The Head of State however was not satisfied and asked the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Jean-Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, to enlighten him more on what could have delayed the project.
Minister Ngabitsinze explained that there were some challenges relating to what the prospective investor needs to have the factory up and running and it was mainly the district and other institutions that delayed the process.
“We have an investor who already bought the facility, he is called Gasasira Janvier, an investor who has been in the agro-processing sector for a longtime. He has two challenges which we discussed, which I think the district has a role to play,”
“The first one is the land title which the district is yet to give him and the second one is the issue of enough electricity supply to run the machines. The other aspect he is looking at is financing,” said the Minister.
He added that the said business runs a number of maize processing factories in Bugesera and in Kigali but without a land title, it becomes difficult to secure financing.
“The district should help him to get the land title because that is really important for him to get financing. We will also ensure that he gets the electricity supply,” Dr. Ngabitsinze said, assuring the Head of State that the processing plant will be built with immediate effect.
President Kagame however was not convinced and asked the officials what took so long yet all those institutions could have worked together, even via a mere phone call, to address the impediments the investor faced.
His intervention followed a question from a farmer, during the interactive session, who said that they lose a lot of wheat produce due lack of a factory which can add value to it.
The Head of State pointed out that when leaders don’t work together at all levels, the main beneficiaries become the people and the country, adding that if that was done well, there wouldn’t be discussions about poverty in parts of the district.
President Kagame commended the residents of the district for their efforts but said a lot more needs to be done to alleviate poverty, for example in the Kaduha-Gitwe corridor, which is said to have many cases of poverty in households and poor infrastructure.
The head of state said that while the area cannot develop as fast as say Kigali, there is a lot that can be done if local leaders got close to the people and identified what they can do together, within the available resources.
He pointed out that it is the duty of the government to do that, which is what he promised them during the elections in 2017 and now had returned to visit them, to reassure them that he still stands by the pledges he made to them.
President Kagame, who took time to take questions from the residents on different things, including issues which have not been addressed by different institutions, said that local leaders need to have an understanding of the responsibility they bear.
“As leaders, you need to worry if citizens are not getting what they deserve. We need to improve in that area and make sure that locals leaders know what people need and can be afforded there and then, within the available means,”
“It is true there are certain things we cannot afford immediately in terms of resources but for those you can give yourself a target of one or two years and then revisit them,” he said, adding that a problem cannot remain forever if leaders worked with the people.
He said that there is a need to prioritise things in view of what can be done immediately, within the available resources and what can wait as more resources are being mobilized.
“It takes a certain discipline to do that -using what you have effectively, rather than wasting what you have on things that are not of priority for the citizens. It starts with the local leaders and the people. It has to be enshrined in our beliefs and practices,” President Kagame said.
“We must have a culture that promotes hard work towards improving our lives. If that culture is not there, even if the tools are there, you will not achieve anything,” he added.
On security, he assured residents of Nyamagabe that security is guaranteed and the small issues of insecurity, coming from across the border, will be addressed decisively and should not worry them at all.
President Kagame will continue his tour in Nyamasheke district, Western Province, on Saturday.
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