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President Kagame Leads Busy Weekend, Before Start Of Electoral Campaign

by Vincent Gasana
4:06 pm

Community health workers at the “Meet the President’ today

Friday, the start of a weekend. For most people around the world, time to switch off and recharge batteries, ready for the working week ahead, but not for Rwandans, for most of whom it is time to clear the decks for a new administration, after the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

For most at all levels of Rwanda’s leadership, this weekend will suite the most organised, and even they, will need to add quite some stamina to their organisational skills.

The election campaign officially kicks off on 24th June. Before that, everyone in any position of leadership, will be thinking how they continue their responsibilities, at a time when the nation’s attention will be preoccupied with the sometimes euphoric, and in the case of Rwanda, almost always celebratory business of elections. This year of course, the most important presidential and parliamentary elections.

Leading by example, is arguably the most disciplined and organised public servant, head of state, Paul Kagame. The weekend finds him at parliament house, presiding over the dissolution of parliament, and the swearing in of new ministers, after a recent reshuffle.

On Saturday, it is the regular ‘meet the President.’ These events have the feel of an almost intimate conversation between the head of state, and whatever community or sector, he decides it would be important to meet, on that particular occasion.

There is no particular official schedule, President Kagame decides the time, and asks a particular sector or community to a conversation. More than any other group, the youth, referred to often, as the “strength of the nation”, have probably had more of the president’s attention.

But most, if not all sectors have been invited for a chat, about the nation’s vision, progress and direction, and always, a presidential thank you. At times when called for, an admonition. In general, however, these are almost always uplifting occasions, which reiterate that every Rwandan, has a responsibility, and a part to play in national reconstruction.

In what could be the last cabinet meeting of his sevem year term in office, President Kagame also led the government to in taking several decisions. The lucky civil servants got promotion or new appointments and their names were published in the cabinet minutes, the famous ‘yellow paper.’

This weekend, it is to be the community health workers, 8,000 of them.

Rwanda has taken strikingly enormous strides in meeting the health needs of the nation. Credit has to of course, got to go to government policy, but also to individuals, groups, communities, on whom the government has relied to design, shape and implement the policies.

Chief among individuals, is Dr Paul Farmer, who died from heart complications in 2022. Comfortingly, he died after being honoured by President Kagame, with one of Rwanda’s highest civilian honour. And community health workers, most of whom are volunteers, remain instrumental in Rwanda’s healthcare provision.

It is through such individuals and groups, that Rwanda, stood out as the only country in sub Saharan Africa, on track to meet all the health related millennium development goals. Little wonder then, that in spite of a heavy schedule, President Kagame will have insisted on finding the time to meet the community health workers.

As the President headed to the parliament buiding, the first lady may have glanced in his direction, as she continued passed parliament, towards the Kigali Convention Centre, where she was joined by other dignitaries, including Minister for National Unity and Civic Engagement, Dr Jean Damascene Bizimana, for a meeting with Avega Agahozo, the association of widow survivors of the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

It would take at least a book, to relate everything that Rwandan women in general, and the Avega Agahozo widows in particular, have contributed to the healing of post genocide Rwanda. They are among many to whom an entire nation owes a debt of gratitude it can never repay.

As she was honouring the widows of Avega Agahozo, representatives of the First Lady’s Foundation, Imbuto, were in Bisesero at a Kwibuka30, or 30th rememberance event, in support of the Bisesero survivors of the Genocide Against the Tutsi.

While all of that was going on, the leadership of the Rwanda National Police (RNP) could be found in Musanze, congratulating new graduates from the Police Academy.

Not to be forgotten, the general assembly of the National Youth Council. Over 1,000 representatives for various youth groups nationally, came together to evaluate their performance past and future.

It is an extraordinary time to be a young Rwandan. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a country anywhere in the world, which places greater importance on bringing the youth into the political system, more than Rwanda.

And the young people of Rwanda have shown that when given the opportunity, they can step forward to play their part in national reconstruction. Rwanda’s response during the Covid-19 pandemic, was exemplary. Among the groups on whom the country relied, to ensure compliance with regulations to limit the spread of the disease, was youth volunteers. Stern young men and women, who reminded people to wash hands, and wear face masks not on their chins, but mouths and noses.

There is at least one event that is purely entertainment. If it is your fancy, you can spend your Saturday and Sunday, watching super bikes, and rally cars tearing through Huye at insane speeds, in the Huye Motor rally.

You can take a breath on Monday, as you beginning the working day.

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