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RWANDA: 20 YEARS ON


has been the flagship governance pillar of the post genocide Rwanda. With women representing 52 per cent of the Rwandan population, attempting to rebuild a country and government without female input would have been a senseless exercise. Special measures were introduced, such as empowering women programmes that serve to uplift the status of women in different sectors including affirmative action in elective positions.


and the President of the Republic cannot come from the same political organization/party. In addition to that, the political organization that wins the legislative elections cannot have more than 50 per cent of the members in the Executive.


Freedom of expression is guaranteed by law but is closely protected against a repeat of irresponsible hate media that surfaced in 1994. Media laws have been reviewed with the participation of the media council to introduce the mechanism of self-regulation of members of the media. Access to information is guaranteed by legislation and all public officials are required by law to disclose all unclassified public information.


Gender equality


Gender equality is a mainstream governance policy where equal opportunity to both men and women


Other measures also taken included providing girls with an education and implementing mechanisms to fight gender- based violence. Access to land and inheritance rights were also reinforced with specific legal provisions. The constitution not only enshrines the aforesaid measures, it also stipulates that women must hold at least 30 per cent of positions in all decision- making organs of the State. According to the statistics of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Rwanda ranks highest in the world in terms of female representation in Parliament from 2008 to date, with a current figure of 64 per cent women in the Chamber of Deputies. Women representation in the Judiciary, Executive and decentralized entities has increased by more than 30 per cent.


Homegrown solutions Archeological evidence exists of a rich Rwandan culture and civilization that thrived and dates as far back as 1000 years before the arrival of European missionaries and colonizers. The type of challenges that confronted post-genocide Rwandan society could not be sufficiently addressed using available precedents from western civilization and literature. In order to re-establish a shared national identity, the Rwandan people drew on the aspects of the Rwandan culture, traditions and practices that constituted a value system that had helped to define them as a people. These values were identified, studied and modified to suit the needs of modern times and context.


The result is a set of Home-Grown


Solutions to a specific context of a multitude of challenges in the post genocide Rwanda. These solutions/ values are uniquely Rwandan and have gained specific applicability in definition of the ‘new’ Rwandan identity and they include the following: GACACA: One of the home- grown solutions is Gacaca which refers to the small cleared space under a tree, where elders and leaders in the village facilitate a discussion that any member of the community can partake in.


The system helped bring together genocide perpetrators and victims to discuss acceptable community punishments, reparations, forgiveness and reconciliation. A total of 1,958,634 genocide-related cases were tried through the Gacaca process in a space of ten years from 2002 to 2012. The Gacaca process may not have met “international standards” but Rwandans credit the process for having laid a foundation for peace, reconciliation and unity in Rwanda.


Ubudehe: This refers to the long-standing Rwandan practice and culture of collective action and mutual support to solve problems within a community in a participatory manner. Ubudehe has been recognized as a participatory development approach to poverty reduction. In 2008, the programme won the United Nations Public Service Award for excellence in service delivery. Today, Ubudehe is one of the country’s core development programmes.


One of its most significant impacts is the way in which it has transformed citizen engagement especially within the decentralized system. It has revolutionalized the way Rwandans participate in decision-making processes.


Girinka: Girinka is a revolving one Cow per Poor Family programme initiated in response to the alarmingly high rate of childhood malnutrition, and as a way to accelerate poverty reduction and integrate livestock and crop farming. Girinka has contributed to an increase in agricultural production in Rwanda – especially milk products which have helped


reduce malnutrition and helped to increase incomes.


Challenges


Challenges still exist within both the internal and external environments. The main challenge facing Rwanda today is the persistent threat of the ideology of genocide and a hate campaign to eliminate the Tutsi population. Generally propagated by those that committed the 1994 genocide and are still unrepentant, both within and outside of Rwanda. The other challenge is in building an efficient infrastructure, particularly in energy, which is necessary to power and sustain the fast growing economy. Poverty levels are declining but not as fast as Rwandans want. Security threats are ever present especially within the region of the Great Lakes of Africa which has seen volatility in the recent past. This has been caused by a myriad of armed militias of different nationalities which are ever present in the ungovernable parts of the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Conclusion


Rwandans look back 20 years, with pain, grief, shame and guilt and see an ugly past that they do not want to repeat. On the other hand Rwandans also do not want to forget because it reminds them of humanity’s capacity for cruelty. The achievements of the past 20 years are modest but quite phenomenal in Rwandan terms because they bring a sense of pride, wellbeing, dignity, patriotism and Rwandaness. They are proud of a smart, clean and secure country, where women have a voice, the youth are cherished as the greatest national resource, and an economic model that is integrating regionally with global outreach.


They are very proud of their leadership, a leadership that detests corruption, a leadership that is responsive to the needs of its citizens; yes, a leadership of their choice, brewed in an undefiled Rwandan pot. Twenty years later, Rwanda stands out as a partial story of Africa’s Renaissance.


The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 157


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