President Paul Kagame on Thursday assured residents of Ruhango district, Southern Province, that the government will deliver on the promises he made to them in 2017, during the presidential elections
The head of state returned to the district, which he last visited on August 17, 2017, as his first stop in a four-day tour which is part of the citizen outreach program. The citizen outreach program returned after two years, following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Thousands of Ruhango residents turned up to welcome President Kagame in Ruhango town, as they danced and waved flags in the first major public gathering since 2019.
President Kagame thanked residents of Ruhango for their contribution to national development, reiterating the commitment of the government to play its part in supporting their efforts.
“I have not been here in a while. I was supposed to come back and visit you after the last time I was here, during the elections. The last time we met, we agreed on many things and I believe on your part, you did most of what you promised,”
“You went out and voted as we agreed, made your choice and put the ball in my court. I was not able to meet some of my promises to you but we are still together on this journey,” President Kagame told the crowd of approximately 50, 000.
He assured them that he heard what the district mayor said and the government will work to scale up the pending works, especially infrastructure and access to services.
“Whether it is access to clean water, which is slightly above 60 percent, I promise you that we will increase access to maybe 80 or 90 percent. We will do whatever it takes to honour what we promised you,” President Kagame said.
Among other things, he said the government is looking to scale up access to electricity, education, health facilities and direct efforts towards improving the agricultural sector.
He said that it is the duty of the government to do that in a bid to support what the citizens are already doing.
“The bigger responsibility is for the government and we will find ways to address some of the challenges you face in these sectors to a considerable level. Your part is to work hard, within your means and capacity and the government will support you in whatever you are doing,” he said.
To improve agricultural productivity, the head of state said the government will invest in key areas such as providing seeds, agricultural implements, infrastructure and irrigation facilities but the farmers have to have a like minded vision to do things in a modern way, for the joint efforts to bear fruit.
“You number one role is to take advantage of these gains and preserve them. If it is a road we’ve built, you have a duty to preserve and protect it to last many years. That is what we require from you as citizens,” President Kagame said.
Improving agriculture production
Another example President Kagame gave is in agriculture where he said that while there has been tremendous progress in the sector, a lot more needs to be done to make it more productive and efficient.
A case in point he mentioned the Kinazi Cassava Processing Plant located in the district, which he said he was informed operates at 50 percent, mainly because there is a shortage of cassava.
“One would wonder why it is not operating at 80 percent or even 100 percent? There are two reasons, the government built the factory, but for it to operate well, it must have cassava to produce the quality flour needed,”
“It cannot run without enough cassava and that is where your part comes in. You have to grow more cassava,” President Kagame said.
He urged the people of Ruhango to grow more cassava for the factory to produce more flour, including for export and the people will also benefit directly by selling their produce.
“Outside Rwanda I was told they loved the flour but it is not available. That means we are losing a lot, money that would come from selling your produce to the factory and the revenues the factory would make from the selling,” he said.
Regarding the roads, President Kagame said he understands the urgency of building more roads but urged the people of Ruhango to be a bit patient as the government mobilises resources to deliver them, assuring them that it is not because they were forgotten.
He however pointed out that the government is also aware that there are leaders who don’t get close to the people or engage in acts like corruption which affect the development of the country but they are consistently working to deal with such cases.
President Kagame commended the residents of Ruhango for cooperating in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, telling them that their response enabled the country to successfully combat it.
He said that like many countries, the outbreak caught many off-guard and there were no immediate resources to deal with it while it inconvenienced the social lives of Rwandans.
“It curtailed our lives through lockdowns which forced us to stay in our homes and other measures we had to observe,”
“It became a serious challenge for all of us but I can say we responded positively as a country, which is why I want to thank you. We went through it together,” President Kagame said.
He pointed out that when it came to vaccination, in some countries people rejected it or fought back, mainly because of misinformation but Rwandans cooperated.
He cited an example of a friend he didn’t name, a global leader, who refused to take the vaccine and lost two family members.
President Kagame said that he asked the said leader why they still refuse to take the jab even after losing family members and he said that the vaccine contains unknown substances which can harm someone in the long term.
“I told him that I took the vaccine to prevent something that would kill me at the moment, Covid-19, as it did to his family members, instead of fearing the unknown, which would apparently kill me in 15 years. Maybe in 15 years there will be a vaccine for that as well,” President Kagame quipped.
He said that the issue for Rwanda was the shortage of the vaccines from the start but when the vaccines became available, Rwandans took them up, but there were a few who feared it and fled to Tanzania.
President Kagame said that the people were found where they had fled to and sensitised on the benefits of the vaccines and majority of them accepted to return home and voluntarily accepted to be vaccinated.
Following his address, President Kagame took time to interact with citizens, taking their questions and comments, as has been the culture in citizen outreach programmes.