The 18th National Dialogue Council, Umushyikirano 2023, ended on Tuesday with President Paul Kagame asking Rwandans to be agents of change especially in things of individual, community and national interest.
The Head of State pointed out key issues of concern which need to be worked on to change the society and country for good, including certain practices that derail national development such as time wasting.
President Kagame said that for this to happen one of the things that has to happen is to reduce unnecessary time spent in meetings, to start taking action.
He said that meetings, though needed, have become so many and some leaders get swallowed in meetings to the extent that they don’t perform their duties and leave citizens looking for services hanging.
“That is why there is no time to act but more time to meet and I always ask what do you discuss if you are not using the meeting to plan and assess activities or use the meet to begin acting?” Kagame asked.
He advised that all meetings can be of importance depending on what comes out thus leaders have to change the way they conduct meetings so that they become a driving force to action.
Kagame raised this point based on his previous comments about leader’s failure to act on simple things which are core to driving the country’s ambitious development targets, which despite the progress made in almost 30 years, the President thinks Rwanda can be the best if only issues where responded to in time and with purpose or being responsible leaders.
“We are not vintage wall clocks or wristwatches which need a bit of spinning every day for them to function. We should be doing this automatically and have a sense of urgency because we are behind and need to catch up with others in front. I am sure we are not happy with being behind others,” Kagame advised.
Point out mistakes
The Head of State also reminded leaders and Rwandans in general to be able to keep each other in check, where mistakes are pointed out early and corrected whenever things are going off track.
“We need people who can simply stand up and say no, stop this because it affects us as a whole,” Kagame said that his attitude should change to have Rwandans who can be bold to speak out the truth in situations where things are not right.
The President gave an example, a child who goes to the bar and shares beer with adults in a way that costs their future life as a youth but the adults around or with the child do not do anything about it let alone to advise the child to the least.
Kagame said in such cases, the next thing that happens, if children continue to go to take alcohol in the bar, is to punish their parents and the bar owners even if the child came with parents.
This warning comes at a time when the government is planning on a new law that prohibits and punishes under age alcohol consumption after health figures currently indicate an increase in alcohol consumption among youths.
Kagame said that these cases have to be reported by leaders so that action is taken, and show that in places where action on illicit alcohol consumption (like Nyagatare district) has been taken, there has been improved delivery on district performance contracts (Imihigo).
In this fiscal year 2022-23 Imihigo evaluations, Nyagatare district came in first place with 81.64% leading all 30 districts in the country, having come last previously, something President Kagame said could have probably happened because of government efforts to crackdown on consumption of illicit alcohol, commonly known as ‘kanyanga’.
Resounding his previous call yesterday, the President asked leaders to stop “sitting in mud” and being comfortable in a messy position as a result of not performing their expected duties.
The President said that working hard and together will be vital so as to have numbers and results evident in the critical mass.