Home Rwanda Decides 2024 RPF, A Brand That Would Be The Envy Of Any Marketer

RPF, A Brand That Would Be The Envy Of Any Marketer

by Vincent Gasana
10:59 pm

RPF during a party conference

Anyone seeking the truth about Rwanda, will be struck by the difference between the Rwanda that is, and the other that exists in the imagination of the country’s detractors. This difference is most starkly obvious at certain moments during the country’s political calendar, moments like this weekend.

An eagle eyed observer, will have noted something unusual this weekend. A number of people in the red or blue colours of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) party, sometimes topped off with red or blue caps, walking purposefully towards this or that direction.

If you followed them, you would eventually have been welcomed into a town or village hall meeting, where party members, and anyone else who wished to join them, had gathered to exercise their democratic rights.

It is one of several examples of direct democracy in Rwanda, this one starting at the smallest structure of local government, community level in essence. The party, which happens to have been in government for the last seven years, reports what it has achieved to the electorate. Party leaders also explain what they have failed to achieve and why, before they ask the electorate for continued support, in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

Although the meetings were of members and therefore expected to support the partry, both they and the leadership, are clear that their support is not to be taken for granted, that it is to be earned.

We feel very happy with this meeting, primarily because of the progress that has been made over the last seven years, under the leadership of our chairman, who is also our head of state,” enthused Ange Mukandayisenga, in Musanze. She was especially pleased with the development in schools and the road network in her area.

While most were horrified by any suggestion of complacency, there was a palapable sense of self satisfaction, that their party had delivered for the country, and they expected to win the elections and continue the work.

What we want and are waiting for now” said Olivier Ndayizeye, “is to have the schedule and organisation for the elections, especially at the local level, so, we can come out and vote and help the organisers in whatever way they wish.”

It is decades since the RPF morphed into a political party, from a movement, but at times like these, the enthusiasm of its membership, takes on the drive and idealism of a movement.

Rwanda’s elections are frugal, and there is a sense of pride in the voluntary contributions to the party’s electoral fund. As a brand, the party would be the envy of any marketing department.

People seem to want to contribute because they do not want to be outdone, in showing their support and loyalty, to an organisation they feel belongs to them, and richly deserves their support. At times, it feels as though the membership’s enthusiasm drives the leadership, rather than the other way round. Watching these local party meetings, it becomes clear why Rwanda’s national elections are always a celebratory affair. The people own the process, and feel that the leadership is accountable to them.

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