President Paul Kagame says leaders who have been assigned responsibilities need to be proactive in addressing the challenges the country faces instead of pretending about it or focusing on personal interests rather than those of a country.
The Head of State made the call on Friday while officiating a swearing-in ceremony of new cabinet members recently appointed to new positions. The officials who took oath are Gen (Rtd). James Kabarebe, who is the new Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Regional Cooperation and Francis Gatare, the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Rwanda Development Board (RDB).
Speaking after the swearing-in ceremony held at Urugwiro Village, President Kagame said that Rwanda has unique problems, some of which linked to its past, location and size, which requires leaders or anybody with the duty of developing the country to work extra hard and selflessly.
“We all follow current affairs, not just in our country but also the region, the continent and globally. We have unique problems which we need to deal like our own, but also we have other challenges that come from outside Rwanda, which are not of our making but we have to deal with them because they impact us,”
“So, when you are dealing with national challenges, you don’t forget to deal with other challenges that might be external. You deal with them all. These challenges might not necessarily be about security, they can be economic or otherwise. When we say that we want to grow our economy, it largely depends on what we do to achieve that,” President Kagame said.
President Kagame said when leaders don’t do what they are supposed to do, even the country lags behind because the world is more competitive today, more than ever, which isn’t a bad thing because competition is a way of life, highlighting quality or standards of what people do as an example.
He pointed out that when you make substandard or poor quality goods, they don’t get the market and you lose out because in a world of competition people go for the best quality.
“As Rwandans, we need to do much more, even in extraordinary ways, so that we can compete favourably with others or risk being left behind. It is as simple as that,” he said.
The other aspect he said concerns policies, mainly because policies determine a lot of things.
“If your policies are not good enough, you leave others to decide for you how you should live. You will have people coming to dictate what you should do, because you don’t know what you want. I am referring to you as leaders but I am also referring to the country,” President Kagame said.
The same people have the audacity to tell countries that the paths they are taking are not good if they are not doing as they wish. At the same time, when you go against the wishes of the external forces, they can even punish you for defying them and will do what it takes to keep you where they want you- in poverty.
“As a leader, if you don’t understand this and don’t put it at the forefront of what you do, you are not honouring the oath you take when you are assigned these responsibilities,” the Head of State said.
“We have to repeat this all the time because the message must sink in, it must be understood. Sometimes people will get in these positions and forget this and focus on pursuing their personal interests,” he said.
All these are built on the choices we make. You can choose to be poor because you have people who give you handouts and you are happy with that. You don’t even put an effort so that you can remain poor and continue to be fed by wellwishers. This is a common issue with our countries. I am not talking about Rwanda alone, but Africa in general,” he pointed out.
He pointed out that he has to emphasize the message because leaders have to be reminded of the quest all the time so that they remain on track, adding that being in a position of responsibility alone is not enough, but rather their actions should prove that they merit to be where they are.
For a country known to be heavily religious, President Kagame says the faith should be reflected in the wellbeing of the citizens, because certainly God doesn’t want to see his people poor.
“We normally see lists of countries ranked for doing this or that. I am sure if they did a list of the most religious people, we might come at the top. But what faith do we have if we believe in God but don’t do what we believe is godly? How do you accept to be on the list of poor countries and you are ok with that? What kind of faith is that?”
“I am sure God wishes good things for people. Why would we accept being poor? That is not what God wishes for us,” President Kagame said, urging leaders to remain focused on issues of national interests rather than being derailed by individual pursuits.