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Elections 2024: Rubavu Teacher Sets Eyes On Presidency As More Prospective Candidates Emerge

by Edmund Kagire
12:05 am

Habimana submits his credentials to NEC Chairperson Oda Gasinzigwa.

Thomas Habimana, a 35-year old teacher and singer based in Rubavu district, Western Province on Wednesday submitted his credentials to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), expressing his interest to run for presidency in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for July.

Habimana’s requirements, along with those of self-styled ‘politician’ Sekikubo Barafinda, were received by NEC Chairperson, Oda Gasinzigwa, including 600 signatures collected from across the country, as well as other requirements stipulated in the law.

The youthful educator and rapper told journalists on Wednesday that submitting his candidature is his democratic right like any other Rwandan who can show interest in leading the country and a life-long dream he has harboured since childhood, to become a leader.

Habimana told the press that as a young person, the country has opened more doors and opportunities for him but he wants to also show that he can make a contribution, emphasizing that he is in to ‘compete’ with anyone.

“Growing up, I had a dream that one day when I turn 35, the legal age to stand for presidency, I would submit my candidature to be the President of the Republic, to make my contribution to nation-building and to consolidate the gains we have registered over the past 30 years, and that is what I have done,” he said.

Habimana says he is exercising his democratic right.

“I am a product of that progress and it is an honour for me to be able to exercise my democratic and constitutional right under the current leadership,” Habimana says, telling journalists that he is not in to compete or challenge anyone.

“I don’t know why you think elections are about rivalry or politics should be confrontational. Participating in an election is more of a democratic right, in a peaceful atmosphere, where you have the right to go and show the people what you can do for them and then they can decide to vote for you or not. It is not about competing or confronting each other,” said Habimana.

Habimana, who is the headteacher of Rubavu-based Hope Technical Secondary School says that he is a ‘politician naturally’ as a school leader, because it requires dealing with people on a daily basis. He also happens to be a rapper and singer with different songs about development and social issues on different platforms.

Similarly, Sekikubo Barafinda, who tried to compete in 2017, submitted his credentials, before telling journalists in a comical interview that he is back with a manifesto with 200 issues he wants to fix in Rwanda, 2,000 African problems and 20,000 global challenges to tackle.

Barafinda submitted his credentials to NEC, including a medical certificate from a doctor, showing that he is in the right state of mind. After his 2017 unsuccessful attempt to run, he was subsequently admitted to Ndera Neuropsychiatric Hospital following several erratic YouTube interviews.

Barafinda is attempting to get on the ballot paper for the second time having failed to make it in 2017.

In July 2020, Rwanda Investigations Bureau (RIB) and Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) cautioned journalists, YouTubers especially, against using Barafinda, who had been confirmed by doctors to have a mental condition, in interviews which pointed towards exploiting him rather than giving him a platform.

On Thursday, more prospective presidential contenders are expected to submit their files to NEC, including Philippe Mpayimana, who contested in 2017, as well as Diane Shima Rwigara, who also sought to contest in the August 2017 polls but could not make it to the ballot.

While receiving their credentials in an exercise which ends Thursday, May 30, Gasinzigwa told prospective candidates that submitting alone is not enough. The electoral body will review all the files and announce a preliminary list on June 6 while the final list will be released on June 14.

Rwandans will vote in Presidential and Parliamentary elections on July 14 in diaspora and July 15 in the country.




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