Just like its topography, Rwanda’s history has been that of beauty and hardships. Much as the said hardships of bad politics and discrimination were manmade and nurtured by colonial masters and fuelled by leaders of yesteryears for decades, when the new era that saw liberation visited on every Rwandan dawned, no amount of resistance could deflect that change.
It therefore comes with flooding and luxuriantly well-wrought jubilation when Rwandans celebrate, not only President Paul Kagame’s election for a new 7-year mandate, but an entire spectrum of deeds, innovations, infrastructures, perceptions, unity and carrying the flag, building foundations and walking the path of building the Rwanda we want. We have decided.
During his acceptance speech when he was elected the flag-bearer for RPF-INKOTANYI, President Kagame, in his usual wit of delivering strong messages, quipped, counselled and assure all at the same go. He, in no uncertain terms, let the party members, Rwandans and the world know that he is not into the position he occupies as one looking for a job, but one offering his ingenuity to the service of the people of Rwanda. He, at the same time asked party members to start thinking of his replacement; a process he advised should be addressed in the next seven years. “I hope that the next seven years will be used to address the issues that made you ask me to stand another time. It is something you must think about.”
Kagame noted that the people in favour of his standing again had a better understanding of Rwanda’s circumstances than those that were opposed to a third go at Rwanda’s presidency.“The pressure not to run was less informed and meaningless than the pressure for me to accept,” he said.
This means RPF’s choice, Kagame’s acceptance and the masses’ adherence through overwhelming vote are all a good demonstration of what was emphasized at the selection day thus; “The pressure not to run was less informed and meaningless than the pressure for me to accept,” he said.
As time for campaigns started, there was clear demonstration and show of mutual love for the two sides; the voters and Kagame. The mammoth gatherings that characterized RPF rallies were just one part of the story. There are other stories such as how the Kigali business community pooled resources to facilitate the campaigns, RPF-Inkotanyi supporters in the diaspora also mobilized other Rwandans into voting for a man that has seen the country rise from ashes to becoming an African model of development, building the foundations of Unity, Democracy and Development, a message he carried and flagged wherever he went for the campaigns.
Throughout the campaigns, Paul Kagame gave those messages of hope and courage. He likened the case of the country to a seed that was buried but germinated.
In all districts and provinces, he tasked people who thronged rally grounds to go out and vote for continuity in order for the ruling party to consolidate gains they have gained so far.
Messages of working together to develop Rwanda were the major on his political menu, advising every Rwandan to use the chances available to build Rwanda and freely live in it.
Speaking at one rally, Kagame told supporters not to pay attention to those who do not want to listen because of RPF’s achievements in a country they destroyed. He said they don’t understand how the country can be this unified today because they wanted to build Rwanda using the foundation of divisions.
‘‘There are those who don’t understand Rwanda’s uniqueness because of the role they played in Rwanda’s past, we are unique because of the path to the transformation we chose, we are unique because of how we have turned our tragic history around. They don’t understand how the country they prepared to be divided transformed into a strong and uniform nation.’’
Residents in districts where rallies took place appreciated and commended the RPF candidate for having stopped the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, helping widows to get a smile on their faces, supporting orphans, improving on education, health, electricity and water supply.
“We will achieve our goals if we keep working together towards the same goal, irrespective of our difference, voting RPF means continuing the transformation journey.”
The RPF-Inkotanyi 2017 Manifesto is very explicit, clearly and precisely spelt out, hinging on ECONOMIC, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND JUSTICE AND SOCIAL WELFARE.
In the ECONOMIC sphere, RPF top priority will be to fast-track the economic development for all that is based on the private sector investment, knowledge and natural resources;
In the area of SOCIAL WELFARE, focus will be to provide an adequate standard of living for every Rwandan, so that he or she can grow into a self-reliant and capable citizen, through a stable society, quality education and healthcare and with respect to GOOD GOVERNANCE AND JUSTICE, attention will be on putting in place good governance and justice systems designed to act as a spur to sustainable national development.
The RPF-INKOTANYI believes that Rwanda’s economy is based on: the strengths and knowledge of the Rwandan people, the country’s natural resources, international trade and cooperation and partnerships with all stakeholders. Over the last seven years (2010-2017), Rwanda’s economy has registered notable growth. Over the next seven years (2017-2024), the RPF-INKOTANYI will deploy more efforts to fast-track inclusive economic development and continue mobilizing citizens to contribute towards increased self-reliance for the country.
Over the last seven years’ mandate, several notable achievements have been realized as a result of working closely with the Rwandanpeople. The economy has registered sustained and impressive growth with Gross domestic Product (GDP) more than doubling over the same period. Key sectors or programmes that have grown to more than double their initial level include: Agriculture and livestock production; Industrial production; Output in the services sector; GIRINKA: number of cows provided through the “One Cow per Poor Family” Programme, mobile phone penetration and access to electricity.
Other major achievements include: decrease in the number of people living in poverty from 45% in 2010 to 39% in 2014;Completion of large scale development projects including: Kigali Convention Center and first class hotels across thecountry. The capacity of RwandAir has been strengthened with new aircrafts to expand its network to 22 international destinations.
Financial inclusion has increased from 48% in 2008 to 89% in 2015 while in infrastructure, new roads have been constructed, existing ones rehabilitated and maintained and Rwandans with access to safe drinking water have increased from 74.8% in 2011 to 84.4% in 2014 and continues to grow. The RPF-INKOTANYI will build on these achievements and continue working with the Rwandan people to scale up achievements and register further progress based on the following pillars:
The RPF-INKOTANYI will continue to fast-track inclusive economic development based on, private sector investment, knowledge and the country’s natural resources with focus on creating decent jobs to spur development and social welfare of the Rwandan people and increasing the number of TVET graduates with skills tailored to labor market demands;
In a bid to strengthen employment and creating 200,00 off-farm jobs, RPF will emphasize that TVET graduates acquire start-up tool kits, promote innovation and ICT projects and support a model income-generating project in each village.
Sustainable urbanization, rural development, and housing for the improved wellbeing of Rwandans are also on a high table agenda which will be promoted through facilitating decent settlement of Rwandans including relocation of those living in high-risk zones and ensure universal access to water and electricity, improve rural and urban transport services and develop waste management systems in cities, towns and rural areas.
Also high on the agenda is promoting “Made in Rwanda” products by working in partnership with the private sector to build new industries and expand the production capacity of existing industries as well as facilitating private sector to access finance and services to increase domestic production for exports.
To entrench and enhance locally made products, the government wil build and develop trade-related infrastructure that will involve constructing 800 km of National asphalt roads including: Ngoma-Bugesera-Nyanza, Base–Gicumbi‑Rukomo-Nyagatare, Huye-Kibeho‑Munini, Kagitumba-Kayonza-Rusumo and Kigali Ring road;building and or rehabilitating 3,000 km of feeder roads;complete the construction of Bugesera International Airport and construct new modern cross-border markets that facilitate Rwanda’s trade with neighboring countries.
Sustainable exploitation of Rwanda’s natural resources will be carried out with coherent exploration activities to determine the actual potential of the country’s natural resources and increase the value of mining production through promotion of processing plants in addition to developing the capacity of artisanal miners.
Building a competitive economy will involve promotion of a knowledge-based and service economy which will involve continued delivery of financial services closer to the Rwandan people through the use of technology and putting in place mechanisms to promote long term savings and pension for all Rwandans including those in the informal sector.
The government will also develop and operationalize the Kigali Innovation City to promote innovation in science and technology, develop ICT skills among the youth and put more efforts into promoting research and development as a key to fast-tracking Rwanda’s economic transformation.
Quality, productivity and production of agriculture and livestock are to be given priority by working with the private sector to increase the surface of consolidated and irrigated land and promote agricultural mechanization; double the land area covered by terraces (radical) and ensure their optimal use for crop production
This will also call for working with the private sector to build storage facilities across the country and add value to agricultural produce; raise the production of high-value crops, including horticulture, flowers, vegetables, fruits, among others and establish programmes to improve professionalization of livestock farmers and improve the quality, production and productivity of their output.
There will be no relenting in protection of the environment as there will be continued strengthening of forest management and ensure their sustainable exploitation;halve the number of households depending on firewood as a source of energy for cooking and develop a project to manage water flows from volcanoes and rivers to mitigate related disasters.
Testimony — Girinka: Getting a real cash cow, restoring dignity, unity
Girinka story in Rwanda is like a song so tender and soulful. It is a development, home-grown initiative floating above the daily hunger-poverty eradication rhetoric. Its implementation has translated into signature achievements unprecedented before.
"Girinka" is "have a cow". But for the poorest of the poor in Rwanda, it was a pure utopia to have such a milk-giving mammal. That changed when the government under President Paul Kagame launched the program in 2006 to benefit poor, hungry families, drastically reduce the number of undernourished children and guarantee farmers’ income.
But all those ambitious targets with one cow per poor family? Apparently yes.
Uzabakiriho Gervais, a resident of Byamatebura village, Shangashya Sector in Gicumbi district tells it all. Orphaned at age 10 in 1985 when his father was assassinated, Gervais’ early life wrinkled into an unfurling path of uncertainty.
At a tender age of 12, Gervais ventured into providing casual labour, working on people’s gardens and other forms of hard labour, a trade that he practiced for nearly 20 years but with nothing tangible to boast of despite the many hours of toil.
In 2006 on the advent of Girinka Program ushered in by President Paul Kagame, Gervais was among the first to get a cow.
“This was when my life began. After a little while, my Friesian cow delivered two calves one of which I passed on to one poor person as is the arrangement of the program. That particular cow delivered twins three times. I was that lucky,” he explains, telling, however, how the rapid multiplication came about with some challenges.
“I was an inexperienced cattle keeper, I had a tiny piece of land that could not support growth of enough forage, yet the market for milk was poor, a liter going for Rwf100.” This did not deter his focus of getting the best out of his cows. His family could take milk every day and the problems of hunger and malnutrition got defeated.
As time went by Gervais’ herd grew to five cows in 2008, and despite the poor market for milk, he was able to save some money and bought a piece of land, two acres, which he used for growing forage and food for subsistence, further entrenching his family in the comfort of food and nutritional security.
“When I bought the piece of land, I embarked on growing beans and Irish potatoes.” Gervais says it was from thence that crop and animal husbandry intersected and the transformative journey of his livelihood gained momentum.
“I turned cow dung into manure, applied it in my gardens and the yields really got better,” he enthuses, adding that even some of the crop residues are used in feeding his cows.
The government support towards maintenance of cows for production and reproduction did not stop coming. “You see the Friesian cows given to us can easily get upset by diseases, so we needed incessant support.”
As the program gained a thick footprint, the government had to provide training to the cow recipients many of who were getting into the trade for the first time. Though there were not enough trainers to cover the whole country, sector veterinarians were recruited into the programme and model farmers who could later pass on skills to others were too brought into the equation.
There was a concomitant increment in Gervais’ milk production and crop yields; with each supplementing the other. In 2010 he bought more four acres of land. So he has six acres, two of which are totally used for forage and the rest for crop farming.
Out of poverty
Today, Uzabakiriho Gervais may not be a millionaire but he is, certainly, not poor any longer. He has 12 cows in total, five of which are milked. Milk sales earn him Rwf200,000 per month after expenses. From growing and selling beans (2 tonnes) he earns Rwf700,000 per season and Rwf1,500,000 from the sale of Irish potatoes (6tonnes). Sometimes he sells organic manure. He has three permanent farm attendants but during harvesting season, he hires as many as 10 people, mostly youth.
He has built himself a 4-bedroomed bungalow at his Byamutebura village, bought a commercial house in the neighbouring Kajanjari trading centre at Rwf 4m and bought Rwf 5 m worth of shares in a Kigali-based real estate development company—MEG. Issues of school fees and medical insurance for his family of five children and wife are no longer any painful bother. He is thankful to President Paul Kagame for initiating Girinka and proud of his achievements. And it shows.
"Thanks to Girinka I have not only got a steady income, but also my dignity has been restored. Cows are a cash factory which you just feed with grass and get milk, cash and dignity,” he concludes.
When the program started, the government had a target of donating 257,000 heifers to poor families by 2015. The target was however raised to 350,000 households by 2017. By December 2016, a total of 246,428 families had benefited from the program.
Over the last seven years, Rwanda has registered tremendous progress in the four areas that constitute the backbone of the national programme, namely: economy, social welfare, good governance and justice. All these achievements were realized based on the RPF-INKOTANYI’s determination, commitment to its political programme.
The RPF-INKOTANYI believes that good governance and justice are key for a strong and stable Nation. These are important pillars for national and citizen development. Therefore, the RPF-INKOTANYI continually seeks to promote the development of good governance and justice responding to the needs of the Rwandan people.
In the last seven years, the good governance and justice sector has made continuous progress towards increasing its effectiveness and efficiency to fast-track the development for all.
In the building of unity among Rwandans and promotion of Rwandan development values: the unity and reconciliation barometer,shows that unity and reconciliation increased from 82% in 2010 to 92% in 2016.
Capacity of security organs has been strengthened to ensure law, order and security. The level of citizen satisfaction with their security has increased and reached 92%. Confidence in security organs has also increased to reach 99% in the Rwanda Defense Forces and 97.6% in Rwandan National Police. In the international arena, reports rank Rwanda as the safest country to live in Africa and fifth globally.
The number of embassies, high commissions and consulates of Rwanda has nearly doubled, especially in Africa. Rwanda has become the fourth largest troop contributor to peacekeeping operations worldwide.
Also RwandAir capacity has been expanded to serve 22 international destinations. The Rwandan diaspora has been actively engaged in National programmes through “Rwanda Day” and “Come and See”, thereby increasingmotherland.
Efforts have been strengthened to bring justice closer to the people (Conciliators, citizen forums, Access to Justice Bureaus- MAJ) leading to the citizens’ satisfaction with service delivery in the justice sector rising to 76.7%.
New ICT-based solutions have been introduced to accelerate the delivery of justice and Rwanda’s justice sector has scooped a continental public management awardfor its Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS). As a result, court backlogs have decreased by 70% for the period between 2011/12 and 2015/16.
Rwanda ranks as the world’s top performer as it relates to anti-corruption policy reforms. In 2016, 87% of the population reported not having witnessed any form of corruption.
The decentralization programme hasbeen reinforced and budget allocations to localgovernments have increased over threefoldover the last 7 years, thus contributing to fast-tracking development for the benefit of the population.
Rwanda is ranked as the 2nd easiest place to do business in Africa, and the 7th most efficient government globally. There is a significant increase in home-grown solutions programmes, thus improving the social welfare.
Capacities and structures have been developed and strengthened for special categories of the population including: women, youth, the private sector, people with disabilities, faith-based organizations (FBOs), Media, cooperative societies and non-governmental organizations. This has increased their participation in promoting socioeconomic development.
Over the next seven years, RPF-INKOTANYI will continue building upon its political programme to fast-track sustainable development for the benefit of the Rwandan people.
More efforts will also be made to turn the Rwandan people into capable and self-reliant citizens harboring the hope for life and upholding their own dignity and determined more than ever to protect our hard-won gains. Let us all work together towards making Rwanda a stable and wealthy nation whose citizens are able to enjoy better life
The RPF-INKOTANYI is committed to strengthening Good Governance and Justice as a pillar of inclusive development. In order to attain this objective, the following areas will be the main focus
In order to reinforce the unity of Rwandans with the aim of building a strong and stable Nation, RPF will strengthen efforts to enshrine Rwandan values of: integrity,transparency, fighting injustice and intolerance for corruption among Rwandans in families, schools and the youth.
The party will promote unity and reconciliation among Rwandans with a particular emphasis on “NdiUmunyarwanda” programme, “Abarinzib’Igihango” in order to heal the scars from bad history and the genocide against the Tutsi;
RPF will focus more efforts on programmesdesigned to fight genocide ideology inRwanda and anywhere else it manifests itself;We will continue strengthening and promoting gender equality, ensuring equal opportunities for all Rwandans whilst fostering the culture of solidarity with vulnerable groups;
We will construct a model National Civic education Center for the “Itorerory’Igihugu” and one branch per Province to foster a mindset that accelerates development and national self-reliance.
Testimony — Florence Murekatete how the past continues to unite Rwandans
Florence Murekatete was 13 when the killing began. Having been mocked by her teachers as a “cockroach”, the pejorative used for Tutsis by majority Hutus, she was already aware of the animosity aimed at her because of her ethnicity.
But she had little idea just how virulent that hatred would be until Hutu militias embarked on one of history’s swiftest slaughters in a bid to rid Rwanda of its Tutsi population.
As an estimated 200,000 Hutus joined the butchery countrywide, Mrs Murekatete and her family spent day after day up to their necks in water as they sheltered with hundreds of other Tutsis in the marshes of the Akagera River.
A Hutu patrol, among whom she recognised a former school friend, eventually found her, attacked her with machetes and flung her unconscious body into a corpse-filled trench.
For Mrs Murekatete, there can be no doubt that Mr Kagame is Rwanda’s saviour, embarking on a policy of reconciliation after the genocide which saw him attempt to heal divisions by banning his people from identifying as either Tutsi or Hutu.
“The president and his people saved me, treated me and fed me. I see a man who encouraged perpetrators and victims to forgive each other.”
Over the next seven years, the party will strengthen the capacity of all security organs (Armed Forces, Police and NISS) for effective discharge of their functions plus strengthening the security and safetyof people and property in partnership with local communities and security organs.
RPF plans to enhance the contribution of Rwanda Defence Force and other security organs in development programmes and projects, especially in the development of secondary cities, industries and major agriculture and livestock projects among others.
Also the party will enhance and expand regional and international security partnerships to fight and prevent cross-border crimes, human and drug trafficking and cybercrimes plus reinforcing values and culture of excellence, patriotism, dedication and service while striving for dignity of the nation and putting citizens at the center.
RPF plans to strengthen diplomatic and international cooperation to support Rwanda and Africa’s development, strengthen diplomacy and international cooperation to support the promotion of investment, tourism and expansion of the market for products made in Rwanda;
The party will strengthen efforts in sensitization of the Rwandan diaspora to promote unity and reconciliation, increase participation in national development programmes, mobilize friends of Rwanda and expand services delivered to the diaspora community
It will put in place mechanisms to raise awareness of Rwanda’s home-grown solutions locally and internationally to support development and strive for unity of Africans and development of the continent based on cooperation and trade aimed at positioning Africa internationally and increasing its self-reliance;
More emphasis will be put into increasing efforts in contributing to peace and security in Africa and globally while ensuring that Rwandan Peacekeepers maintain a culture of excellence in humanitarian and peacekeeping activities.
Under justice, the party will strengthen and continue to improve the legal framework (laws) that supports and accelerates the national development agenda while ensuring effective and reliable institutions plus putting in place modern and culturally-sensitive laws that promote and support living in harmony in families and among Rwandans in general.
Also in the next seven years, RPF will strengthen efforts to prevent andfight corruption and punish exemplarythose who are convicted of such crimes. We will strive to eradicate injustice, resolve grievances of citizens and execute court judgments timely.
Lastly the party will promote the culture of problem-solving in families and reinforce amicable settlement of disputes using various citizen fora, mediators and Access to Justice Bureaus.
In order to improve capacity building, RPF will reinforce institutional coordination for sustained and accelerated development, will enhance capacities of public institutions and enshrine in them a culture of dedicated service to citizens for fast and effective service delivery. We will achieve this through development of ICT solutions.
The party will ensure proper project designs before their implementation, and put in place permanent mechanisms for coordination, monitoring and evaluation.
We will build the capacity of the state organs responsible for the audit and management of state property, monitoring and evaluation and assessment of effectiveness of institutions.
RPF will promote the culture of solidarity and good relations among Rwandans for national self-reliance and sustainable development by encouraging women and youth to continue and increase their participation in national development and governance, striving to create jobs and provide support to their fellow Rwandans.
The party plans to build the capacities of cooperatives, media, non-governmental organizations(NGOs), FBOs, and the private sector todevelop an effective partnership to fast-track national development and improve social welfare.
According to the party, they will promote the culture of self-reliance, teamwork spirit, solidarity and patriotism among Rwandans and developing home-grown solutions to problems facing different categories of our society.
Last but not least, the party will in the next seven years strengthen the voluntary national service programme (Urugerero) under the national civic education institution (Itorerory’Igihugu) with the objective of developing the Rwandan youth into citizens who aspire to become self-reliant and hardworking. This will help them to build self-esteem and prepare them to contribute to finding solutions to existing challenges.
During the implementation of the 2010-2017 Manifesto, the Government of Rwanda led by RPF-INKOTANYI has established the necessary conditions to ensure welfare of all Rwandans. Building on this strong foundation, the next step is to develop a Rwandan with capacity, knowledge, quality standards of living and a stable and secure society. The RPFINKOTANYI’s dedication to this objective is embodied in the Manifesto 2017-2024.
In the Education sector, the milestones registered included; introduction of the twelve-year basic education (12YBE) and giving special focus to technical vocational education and training (TVET) programmes were implemented. New classrooms were constructed and old ones rehabilitated while the educational curricula at all levels were revised to respond to labor market needs and the number of tertiary institutions increased.
In the Health sector, various programmes have been implemented and strengthened including: the community-based health insurance scheme or Mutuelle de Santé, and accessibility to health care services. Furthermore, the number of nurses and doctors has increased and community health workers (CHWs) were deployed in all villages.
Child mortality rate has reduced from 76/1,000 births to 50/1,000 while maternal mortality rate has decreased from 476/100,000 live births to 210/100,000. All people living with HIV have access to antiretroviral drugs.
Uptake of family planning programmes has increased and a maternity leave insurance scheme has been established to ensure working women get their full salary during the three month maternity leave. Sensitization of the population on hygiene and sanitation has yielded positive results.
To further entrench Social Protection interventions; the One Cow per Poor Family Programme (the Girinka Programme) was implemented and 273,331 cows have been distributed; People living in grass thatched houses were supported to live in decent houses and Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme (VUP), aiming at eradicating extreme poverty has been implemented in all the 416 administrative Sectors. The number of vulnerable people unable to work who receive direct support has increased from 9,692 to 85.899. Financial services in VUP has disbursed loans to the tune of RWF 25 billion for the benefit of 366,558 people in rural areas.
Average life expectancy of Rwandans has risen from 62 years in 2010 to 67 years in 2016.
The RPF-INKONTANYI will continue striving for the wellbeing of all Rwandans.
The RPF-INKOTANYI will work to develop Rwandans into a capable and skilled people, with quality standards of living and a stable and secure society.
The major interventions will involve continued promotion of quality education for all, supporting a knowledge-based economy. This will be given emphasis from early childhood education and people with disabilities; effective strategies to prevent dropouts from school and working with the private sector to improve the quality of education, build teachers’ capacity and improve the welfare of teachers and ensure equipping of education centers in addition to increasing the number of general education and TVET institutions, promoting use of ICT in education at all levels and increasing the number of centers of excellence in education institutions, including those in the private sector.
A well performing health sector that ensures financial and geographical access to medical services shall further be strengthened, improve nutrition among children and reduce child and maternal mortality; increase the number of general practitioners, specialists, nurses and qualified administrators and put in place model health centers of excellence.
For efficiency in the health sector, there will also be focus on disease prevention, family planning, reproductive health education for all ages, especially among the youth and put in place sustainable mechanisms for the protection of vulnerable groups, promote social welfare toward eradicating extreme poverty and build the culture of self-reliance.