Home Rwanda Decides 2024 What Will Rwanda’s 5th Parliament Be Remembered For?

What Will Rwanda’s 5th Parliament Be Remembered For?

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
3:48 pm

Going by Rwanda constitution, the President of the republic deserves the right to dissolve the chamber of deputies any time soon.

The constitution in its article 79 stipulates that for elections purposes, the President of the Republic dissolves the Chamber of Deputies at least thirty (30) days and not more than sixty (60) days before the end of the parliamentary term.

The next parliamentary elections, which are combined with presidential elections, are scheduled to take place on July 14-15. Thus, there is about 45 days to the elections.

The general public which had expectations on the lower chamber express their level of satisfaction about the parliament’s accomplishment, while the outgoing members also speak out on what they went through to achieve their mandate.

Jean Baptsiste Omar Karegeya, a journalist and political commentator told KT Press, that the fifth parliament “has the merit of voting many laws, most of which are just validation of loan agreements between the government and several financial partners.”

On another side, he said, the chamber of deputies mostly relies on the draft laws from the executive. You might be surprised that 80% of the bills come from the executive while their own proposals constitute the remaining 20%.

Normally, the bills should first of all come from an individual MP or a group of Mps, the community and then the Executive, not the other way round,” he said.

However, Karegeya has a good appreciation on the Parliament’s field visits even though they are still few.

The parliament schedules field trips with a special theme. For example, if they schedule a trip to assess health performance, they will not record anything about education or vice versa. They should schedule field visits in different disciplines,” Karegeya said.

However, Karegeya is very thankful on some questions that were raised by different people and they were solved.

Those include the case of Gitwe University students who were refused admission at University of Rwanda and a case of people who lost their houses in Nyandungu wetland but took the city of Kigali to court and they won the case.

The challenge, he said, sometimes the parliament gives directives to the executive, but when there is no implementation, the parliament does nothing about it.

Karegeya spoke about some laws that apparently, died a natural death, including the law on cremation.

Culturally, we don’t feel at ease when people talk about burning the body of our loved ones, but looking at the pressure on land, it is important for our society to think twice,” he said.

MP Ruku-Rwabyoma John also believes, that the society should look ahead because the cemeteries will finish the already scarce land, leave alone being a threat to the environment.

Age contradiction in The Family Law

Looking at some contradictions in the laws, Karegeya noted a case of the family draft bill under review where currently, a child can get an identity card only at 16 years, yet they can stand a trial and be sentenced to jail at fourteen years without an identity card.

Still, at those ages of fourteen and fifteen, the child would not legally qualify to stand alone for the responsibility of upbringing a child.

Still at 16 years, he said, a child gets an identity card but does not have majority age and does not qualify for consent in sexual relations.

And worse, from eighteen years to 21 years, one can engage into sexual intercourse but they cannot get married.

All those contradictions affect the family. The next parliament will have to be careful while reviewing the bill,” Karegeya said.

In the family law however, the gender aspect improved to provide that women, like men can inherit properties from their families, not just from their in-law families.

The loyalty of Public Account Committee 

There are many credits to the chamber of Deputies from several people, and for Joseph Hakuzwumuremyi a journalist, the first credit goes to Public Account Committee(PAC) which continued to hold institutions accountable.

At least they continued to seek explanations from public institutions on the management of public funds,” Hakuzwumuremyi said.

PAC however, may need to see the reason of recurrent issues in several public institutions where unqualified audit report failed for several years.

The parliament, he said, has failed to solve issues of duplications in public institutions like the redundancy of responsibilities.

We can recall the case of one stop centre; things that can be found from one place, are still found in several service providers which gives a room to corruption,” Hakuzwumuremyi said.

He was referring to a case of National dialogue-Umushyikirano 2022 where investors said that the Rwanda Development Board(RDB) does not give all services to the investors as it is required.

At the retreat, President Paul Kagame rebuked several institutions, including RDB and ministry of trade and industry for failing to bring all services under one roof.

Furthermore, we could see the termination of laws from colonial rules that were redundant.”

The parliament, he said, solved some gave a direction on some issues that affected several institutions like university of Rwanda, the issue of COVID-19, etc.

They also visited some communities on specific matters.

The fifth parliament was really active, especially in communication,” he said.

Was the 5th Parliament Result Oriented?

Hakuzwumuremyi finds a different problem within the penal code and court procedure which is complex.

The penal code is in the interest of the lawyers because for every case you have to go to court. Even mediation is complicated,” he said.

First of all, Hakuzwumuremyi suggests that mediation and community justice should be enforced so that every case does not end in court.

Even when people reconcile, the court is the organ that will forcibly come in. For every process, you need a court,” he said.

To give an example, Hakuzwumuremyi reminded scenarios where mayors, governors, and sometimes Ministers are told one same problem, and either of them pledges to advocate for the solution.

However, he said, at the end of the day they don’t manage to solve the problem until a court is sought to try the case. The solution the leaders give does not have legal authority.

The 5th parliament also continued to summon leaders-Ministers to explain a number of issues, but prior to summoning, they do not do research. So, the recommendations are not result oriented.

Meanwhile, the 5th parliament is leaving unresolved challenges in key sectors of health, education, justice and agriculture.

We don’t see the role of parliament in solving the problem of overpopulation in prison, not in the issue of hunger and price hikes, they are not working on the stunting issues, referral to international hospitals, among others,” he said.

We see the Mps in general, but they do not hold on issues and make sure that they are over.”

He think that the Mps have neither the enforcement power, nor the power to help the executive to identify and solve key problems.

We have taught Rwandans to demand more

MP Ruku-Rwabyoma John

Amid some complaints, MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma suggests that the parliament tried its level best to play its role, and the outcome is that the citizen is demanding more to the executive.

The citizen is asking to have water at home, to have a tarmac road, to have a first class hospital. This happened because we have created awareness. The current challenge is resources to do what the citizens demand,” MP Ruku said.

On the challenge in health services, from my Rusororo home, I can see several hospitals of cancer, heart, the referral hospital under construction, but the parliament has been working hard to raise awareness because the food is there, but the people do not know how to mix them.

In the justice system, Ruku Rwabyoma says that despite the overpopulation in prison, “prisoners are treated humanly. “We believe that someone who committed a crime can be rehabilitated successfully.”

In the future, he said, using surveillance bracelets to allow prisoners go home will be a solution to congestion.

Ruku Rwabyoma believes that the parliament still has unfinished business in the family law including early pregnancy, divorce, sharing the little people have.

We have a lot, but do not have the heart to share,” he said.

On the case of early marriage, Ruku said, that if a child can die for a country at eighteen years, the same child can also get married though the challenge is that at eighteen years, a child is still at school.

As far as the law on cremation is concerned, Ruku believes that the society should understand.

There is no reason for a deceased family member to ruin the family in the burial ceremony. Remember we don’t have health insurance that pays funeral services.” he said.

Secondly, cemeteries are a threat to the environment. You might remember that the concretes on the tombs is nothing but a cause of erosion.

The young among us should be bold to discuss this until we agree to embrace cremation,’ he said.

According to Ruku-Rwabyoma, “Rwandans should be proud that their parliament belongs to the community. Elsewhere, you cannot be a member of parliament when you are not rich.”

He said that the MPs in Western countries will fight to avoid increase of taxes because they represent interests of big companies, and will care little about the concern of the common citizen.

We are thankful for the teacher’s welfare

Christine Mukabunani

For Christine Mukabunani from PS Imberakuri, she has been considering his checklist. Her party’s petitions included the salary increment for the teachers, which she said, was considered.

Teachers’ welfare has tremendously improved and we are very thankful about that,” she said.

In Rwanda, the salary of teachers increased up to eighty per cent.

We had also asked that the community health insurance be upgraded to an extent that the patients can find enough medicines like other insurance schemes, and this has been reviewed to the interest of citizens,” she said.

As the parliament nears conclusion, Mukabunani said that in her committee of social affairs, they also asked the Ministry of agriculture to own veterinaries and agronomists from grassroots because they are managed by local government.

Sometimes they involve them in activities different from their mandate and they fall short on their role to teach the citizens agricultural good practices,” she said.

On his side, Frank Habineza of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, the satisfaction was mainly on maternity and paternity leave.

We had wished that maternity leave be increased to six months from three months, but only two weeks were added. It is a good progress though,” he said.

We had also requested an increment of paternity leave(to one month), it has been increased to one week from four days,” Habineza said adding that the improvement is satisfactory.

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