President Paul Kagame has called on members of the ruling party to keep the momentum going for the coming years if the party is to fully restore the independence of the country and deliver to the expectations of the citizens.
In his acceptance speech after being re-elected chairman of the ruling party Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF- Inkotanyi), for the next five years, President Kagame reiterated his earlier message that the party cannot afford to be complacent because the challenges it has to deal with remain extraordinary in nature.
“We cannot do things like everybody else. The challenges they face and those we confront are different. We need to do things in a unique way so that even those who want to accuse us of all evils can hardly find any wrongs about us.” Chairman Kagame in his acceptance speech, reiterating his earlier message about RPF principles.
In his acceptance speech, President Kagame thanked RPF members for trusting him to continue to lead the party and promised to carry on working towards liberating Rwanda from all kinds of control that go against the very reasons RPF fought for, including external influence.
Draw a succession plan.
While he appreciated the fact that he was re-elected to lead the party for another five years, Chairman Kagame tasked the ruling party to find a succession plan that would allow him to pave way for someone else to take over the reins, in what sounded like a call for a transition.
“I want to thank you for the trust you have continued to show in me. For some time now you have continued to show trust in me. It means you appreciate everything we have achieved together but I also have to admit that it comes with a sense of guilt,”
“I feel like I owe you something. I feel there is something that is still missing, and we must work to get a solution for. We have to fulfil the task of us finding someone who can do what you elect me to do,”
“I have a debt of saying that if we could move faster in what we do, to the point where we can find someone else to do what I am doing. That is what I am saying that there is a dose of guilt. It means that I have not been able to work with you to find someone else who can do what I am doing,”
“Every time we are looking for a chairman and I come back again with 99.9 percent, I ask myself, why can’t it be someone else? I am not saying this just for the leadership of RPF-Inkotanyi. The same applies to the leadership of the country. You should know that every time I am brought back to serve, that burden actually increases,” President Kagame said.
He pointed out that everytime he is re-elected, he feels the gap of the party not being able to nurture a successor, urging party members to think about it, adding that while there is a lot to celebrate, there should be more efforts going towards consolidating what is being built,”
“That is the only way we can build something sustainable. What we are building is sustainable, but if we can address that issue of finding a successor for continuity, it would be even better,” President Kagame says.
A look back in history
President Kagame recalled past events where he was tasked to lead the party, including a congress in 2010 where he was re-elected to lead the party again.
“We had a meeting in Petit Stade, I tasked you to look for someone to succeed me. If that had happened, I would have been delighted,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame revealed that in 2016, ahead of the 2017 presidential polls, a group of people from a country he didn’t mention, who consisted of renowned stars, came to him to ask if he will stand again in the forthcoming elections and he told them that he was not the right person to ask.
“I asked them to go to every sector here in the country and ask Rwandans that question and come back to me with answers. They came up with what I would call a proposal. They gave me about two proposals,”
“They said that all the things I had achieved, my whole legacy, I actually asked them how they know about my legacy, because they are not Rwandans. They said they could find for me other occupations that would make me a celebrity,”
“I told them that much as I have not asked for that, I am not interested at all. The second thing they said I could find a successor, before I even said a thing, they proposed some names. I said I know these people but what brought you here is to teach me about democracy, are you forced to find someone to replace you?”
“Is that what you do in your countries? What gives you the right to choose people who should lead Rwandans? I invited them for lunch and asked them to go back home,” President Kagame said.
He revealed that until today, he is still receiving letters from people asking him if he will contest again in 2024, some claiming that his answer will help them make a decision to invest their money in Rwanda.
President Kagame said that it is a dillema that he still has to deal with, which is why sometimes he is made to feel guilty.
“That is why I am saying that those looking to take over from us, they should continue to show their abilities,” he said.
He reminded RPF members to stay the course and focus on what they want, which is the only way to forge ahead, instead of listening to narratives coming from anywhere else.
The RPF Chairman paid tribute to the outgoing Vice Chairman Christopher Bazivamo and long serving Secretary General, Francois Ngarambe, for their diligent service to the party.
“Thank you to those who have concluded their terms. Thank you to Christophe Bazivamo for the work he has done for the party and for the country. I also want to thank outgoing SG Ngarambe. He served with distinction,”
“It got to a point where he was no longer known as Ngarambe but rather Secretary General. Everyone referred to him as Secretary General. Even if they are handing over power, it doesn’t mean that they did not serve well. It means that they did their part and now they want others to take over,” he said.
President Kagame said that someone like Bazivamo did not just serve as Vice Chairman, but he also served in other positions, which makes his work commendable.